In their music, Orange County, Calif. band Atreyu combine crushing riffs and harrowing howls with infectious hooks and sugar-sweet vocal melodies, conveying a wide range of emotional expression from pensive to furious. In conversation they're pretty much the same -- just without all the screaming.

For this week's ''Creep Show' podcast, Atreyu vocalist Alex Varkatzas and drummer Brandon Saller phoned in from their hometown and colored the show with acute observations, witty banter and raw cynicism that alternately made them seem like totally nice guys and wicked (but lovable) little bastards. When informed about the Smashing Pumpkins giving away 44 songs for free over the Web, Varkatzas said he wouldn't even take one for free. And after a comment about Metallica, one of the dudes declared inexplicably, "Lars Ulrich can suck my balls."

Conversing with Atreyu was a panel of metal scholars made up of Noisecreep editor Seth Werkheiser, news columnist and writer Chris Harris, Revolver senior writer and Noisecreep scribe Jon Wiederhorn and Metal Sucks Webmasters and scribes Vince Neilstein and Axl Rosenberg.

Aside from griping about Smashing Pumpkins and musing about Metallica, the panel discussed the week's biggest news stories, including Poison the Well losing their trailer and all their gear to some thieves in Detroit and a bloody skirmish that broke out between Emmure frontman Frankie Palmeri and Acacia Strain vocalist Vincent Bennett.

The panel also discussed this week's new releases: A Storm of Light's majestic 'Forgive Us Our Trespasses,' Children of Bodom's entertaining covers album 'Skeletons in the Closet,' Five Finger Death Punch's eclectic 'War is the Answer' Despised Icon's punishing 'Day of Mourning' and Porcupine Tree's meandering 'The Incident.'

Finally, ''Creep Show' grilled Atreyu about their new record 'Congregation of the Damned,' which comes out October 27. During the insightful segment, Varkatzas and Saller explained the meaning behind the title, the reason for the political lyrics and why Atreyu they wrote a heavier, more metallic album than 2007's 'Lead Sails Paper Anchor.' Atreyu also talked about the video for their new single 'Storm to Pass,' Varkatzas' martial arts training and how his upcoming marriage could affect Atreyu's future output.

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