Story of the Year

By - May 1st, 2008 02:52 pm
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By Kyle Shaffer
Defining one’s sound on a passing trend can prove a death blow for most acts. But, perhaps even more daunting a thought is that of trying to reformat a band’s sound to remain relevant. Story of the Year’s heyday was the release of Page Avenue amidst an explosion of screamo bands. Two albums and a few Warped Tours later, the St. Louis crew emerges with The Black Swan, a supposedly seamless integration of the catchiness of their debut with the heavy riffing of 2005’s In the Wake of Determination.

While this album may mark the group’s ability to survive without major-label support, it’s full of enough generic guitar riffs and less-than-inspiring lyrics to make the dudes in Avenged Sevenfold hold back chuckles. Throughout, this record is shaking with the fear of committing to a sound. Opener “Choose Your Fate” attempts Thrice-like energy and lands somewhere between 30 Seconds to Mars and whatever “band of the week” Vagrant Records is promoting. This is not a giant step forward in Story’s growth.

Lyrically trying to tackle more serious subject matter, songs like “Message to the World” struggle to articulate communication problems between the U.S. and the rest of the planet. Even more painful is listening to lead singer Dan Marsala feign his concern for racial equality in “We’re Not Gonna Make It.” These are serious issues in the modern world, but Story of the Year’s contrived sound minimizes their importance. For a band that left a major label for ethical reasons, The Black Swan sure sounds like a record written for a paycheck.

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