The Black Swan Review

artist: Story of the Year date: 05/08/2008 category: compact discs
Story of the Year: The Black Swan
Release Date: Apr 22, 2008
Label: Epitaph
Genres: Emo, Punk Revival, Screamo, Post-Grunge
Number Of Tracks: 13
Story Of The Year have perfected their sound of being able to squeeze melodic, fist pumping, anthemic choruses out of the hard edged, tight guitar lines that they are known for. The Black Swan signifies the return for the St. Louis post-hardcore mob.
 Sound: 9.2
 Lyrics: 8.8
 Overall Impression: 9.2
 Overall rating:
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reviews (5) 25 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.7
The Black Swan Reviewed by: Shredder XXX, on may 08, 2008
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: As far as overall sound goes, the band has remained somewhat true to the tones of their last two records, which makes this album great for both new and old SOTY fans. 01. Choose Your Fate - after a short sample of various political speeches etc. this song explodes into a heavy-as-f--k almost not SOTY-ish intro, it then carries into a well put together, musically diverse song that sets the tone for the whole album. Bringing the changes in the band right up to your face. 02. Wake Up - the bands first single off The Black Swan, it has a very Until The Day I Die tone, that said it still sticks with the bands new sound. Classic SOTY. 03. The Antidote - with an electronica-esk intro, this track once again reminds us that this is not the same old Story Of The Year, whilst still keeping all of their trademark energy and melody. Of Special note is the solo at 2:27, a little irate, but none-the-less fitting for the song. 04. Tell Me - another powerful track on the disc. Tell Me begins with the sounds of marching soldiers and drums, with an almost medieval riff layered on top. This song is the perfect example of Dan Marsala's impeccable ability to write a catchy-as-hell chorus. A very infectious song. 05. Angel In The Swamp - again with a flat 5 driven intro riff, this song holds a more sombre tone, but don't be fooled, the chorus is driving and fast as well as the ever faster punk influenced outro which creates a diversity and excitement almost unheard of from this band. 06. The Black Swan - the title track, it's everything you'd expect, detuned riffs, layers of delays, a very familiar fast/slow distortion/clean arrangement. Another great track, showing these guys know what works for them. 07. Message To The World - begins with a very 'Eye Of The Tiger' feel, this is definitely one of the more anthemic songs on the album, note the solo at 2:40. There's Not much more to say, it comes across a bit like a filler track, though still serves it's purpose getting their message across (pun intended). 08. Apathy Is A Death Wish - this track has a bit more of a proggy feel, the main riff sounds reminiscent of a simpler BTBAM. This theme runs on again in the final stages of the song. Apart from that it's more or less your stock standard melodic and powerful SOTY track. 09. We Are Not Gonna Make It - has a great uplifting feeling to it, contrary to the title, the intro solo is definitely fitting for the track. Another infectious chorus lies within this song coupled with some very creative use of delays in the verses makes for a great anthem/sing-a-long track. 10. Cannonball - another step out to the box for the boys, showing how they've grown as musicians, the riffs have a very modern metal feel, whilst still not taking away from their trademark sounds and feeling. Another blistering solo hides deep within this track which once again see Ryan jumping right out of the pop-powerchord stereotype forced upon him. 11. Terrified - far more mellow than the rest of the album, this was the one everyone was expecting, feeling very similar to 'Sidewalks' Terrified is a great example of these guy's ability to write a damn good song. Catchy, full of feeling this'll definitely get the lighters out in a live arena. 12. Pale Blue Dot - a powerful sampled interlude marking the beginning of the end of The Black Swan, without going into to much detail it outlines the basic insignificance war and triumph hold in the grand scheme of things. 13. Welcome To Our New War - feeding straight from the interlude, the intro has a very Mark Tremonti (in his Creed days) feel to it. That gets discarded quite quickly, replaced with some fast-as-hell riffing from Phil and Ryan, strong vocals on this track make it all the more powerful. The chorus sounds a little like I've heard it somewhere before, but non-the-less the song remains strong. The bridge/interlude of this song is almost indescribable, it has an epic feel to it letting you know this is really the end. Laced with crazy technical guitar layers, it almost feels like the guys are showing off for the sake of it, and that does not, at all, take away from the feeling of the song. An excellent ending to an excellent album. The only real issue I've had with the sound of this record, is some of the choruses begin to sound the same as you listen through the songs. That's not to say they sound bad, just a little overused. All in all a very strong showing for Story Of The Year. // 9

Lyrics: The vocals on this album were, at first, not recognizable, I found myself saying "Is this really Story Of The Year?" for the first minute or so of 'Choose Your Fate'. Dan has made some real dynamic changes to his vocal style for this record, mostly in his screaming range. It is far more powerful and angry sounding as opposed to his old angst ridden, very common, style. His clean vocals have remains very much the same, perhaps a little less in the high register, working a lot more on the melody and fullness of his lines rather than the raw power. The lyrics over the record stay very much inline with the 'politically' aligned record they set out to make. Focusing on everything from family politics to war and international issues. Dan really has shown his diversity through this, proving that not all of his songs are about girls. A worthy side note is the part Phil Sneed played vocally. His backing is far more pronounced than previous records, really giving him a chance to show off his pipes. Overall the vocal style and lyrics on the album have taken a step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. Now to take it to the stage. // 10

Overall Impression: This album was far more than I expected from Story Of The Year. I hit play expecting some very 'In The Wake Of Determination' type stuff to come pounding out. I was blown away by the diversity and power they've shown through the new record. Most notably Ryan's solos, as a guitarist I've been waiting far to long to witness him really opening up as a player. Anyone who's already into the band will love this record and I highly recommend buying it. Anyone who's looking to get into a powerful, catchy, melodic and all round kick-ass band should certainly have a look at this new release for your fix. // 10

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overall: 8.7
The Black Swan Reviewed by: UG Team, on may 08, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: For those who have been with St. Louis quintet Story of the Year since their humble beginnings, it is clear that the band have progressed quite a bit since debut album Page Avenue. Whereas Page Avenue was comprised mostly of punk rock guitars, and pop influenced lyrics, second album In the Wake of Determination saw SOTY distance themselves from the scene they created with harder riffs, harder vocals, and a harder sound. At a time when the music industry was plagued with finding the next Fall Out Boy sensation, it may have been down to the big aforementioned musical leap in such a small time period which denied SOTY the recognition they deserved. Now with their third release The Black Swan, Story of the Year have perfected their sound and have hit equilibrium. This is to say, they have created a balance in their sound in which fans of the poppier debut Page Avenue and fans of the rockier sophomore release In the Wake of Determination can both enjoy. The album kicks off with 'Choose Your Fate', a track which starts with 20 odd seconds of random political rants, after of which a huge, and I mean huge, metal-esque riff blasts it's way through the stratosphere and into your eardrums. Complete with grainy half shouted vocals, the track is a great start to the album, and a great track to mark the band's return with. Another song 'Angel in the Swamp' will quicken and slow the pace of your heart so erratically you'll be headbanging to a heart attack. Whilst there are heavy tracks on The Black Swan like opener 'Choose Your Fate' and 'Tell Me', there are also songs on the record which are somewhat reminiscent of the bands Page Avenue era ('Message To The World', 'The Antidote' and single 'Wake Up'). The Black Swan shows that Story of the Year have perfected their sound of being able to squeeze melodic, fist pumping, anthemic choruses out of the hard edged, tight guitar lines the band are known for. // 9

Lyrics: On the lyrical side of things, Dan Marsala has, if you like, grown up. Rather than singing about the typical topics of love, hate, and losses, he has focused on the politics and social issues of today. For example, on the roughed and rocked up song 'Cannonball', he sings We've never seen this kind of world; it's a warning to us all; we've never seen this kind of world; and I hope that we can stop this cannonball; stop this cannonball about the way we have shaped the worldly problems for humankind. Another somewhat political song is 'We're Not Gonna Make It which addresses the topic of racism: And with a whisper she mumbles through; I guess they just won't accept me and you; they see a difference in skin; but I thought that love was always true; who would have known. It is this variation in topics which makes The Black Swan such a thrilling listen. The clichd lines about lost love are replaced with lines that actually relate to the here and now of today. In this respect, Dan Marsala possesses a virtue that not many other lyricists out there have: the quality of being able to address modern situations without making the record sound too political. // 8

Overall Impression: From start to finish, The Black Swan is an overwhelming album. The riffs are overwhelming, the choruses are overwhelming, and in general the album is as close as you will ever get to top class post-hardcore music. With the perfect blend of heaviness and anthemic sing-along choruses, it's about time the world should WAKE UP; to the sound of this time bomb that is Story of the Year and realize that the St. Louis post-hardcore mob are a force to be reckoned with. // 9

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overall: 7
The Black Swan Reviewed by: greeny23, on may 08, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: St. Louis born rockers Story Of The Years long awaited follow up album to "In The Wake Of Determination" is set to take the band to new heights. Dan Marsela's vocals are louder, and angrier than ever and The Nose's guitar work has been finely tuned to a sound that will literally be, music to your ears. The album is somewhere between their last 2 albums, there is the metal side of the band shown on "In The Wake..." and the melodic, artistic sound showed on the debut album "Page Avenue". // 8

Lyrics: Dan's voice shows it's true colours clearly in the album. His heavy side shows in songs like "Choose your Fate" and "Welcome To Our New War" with harsh sounding, pumping vocals. The album is clearly dominated however, by his real voice, a voice of passion and belief shown in "The Antidote", "Tell Me" and "Wake Up". The bands downfall has always been their ability to write lyrics, and this album is no real exception. The songs are all the same sound and the album really lacks one standout track. // 6

Overall Impression: This is SOTY's 1st album on new label, Epitaph Records, and what a way to kick it off with the pounding sound of "Choose Your Fate". This is followed by the sure MTV hit, "Wake Up". I personally can't get enough SOTY and am living for their concert in Sydney in May. Although I'm hoping deep down they play more old than new. Here's to a slight letdown, but still worth a listen if your a fan of theirs. // 7

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overall: 10
The Black Swan Reviewed by: hobo467, on may 08, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Story Of The Year has always been one of my favourite bands for their own combination of melody and brutality. They basically walk the very blurred line between metalcore and pop-punk, combining heavy, drop-tuned guitars and killer solos with Dan Marsala's unbelievably melodic voice. Still, to say SOTY is the same band on their new album, The Black Swan, would be falsification: They have made minor changes to their style, and it only improves the quality of their music. They have proven once again that though they lack the kind of mainstream attention that most bands similar to them get today, their music is of the highest calibre, and I believe them to be at the forefront of rock music today. The Black Swan was named for a book about the occurrance of unpredictable events. Like the book, the album is fairly unpredictable when transitioning from song to song; if you've liked SOTY before, however, not much has changed, and I definitely appreciate them sticking to their guns. Sonically speaking, this album is in a league of its own. I can't believe how infectious some of the songs are, and even harder to believe is that this bands get comparatively little attention from most rock listeners and radio stations. // 10

Lyrics: Dan Marsala manages to weave some really inspirational and haunting lyrics. In "The Antidote," Marsala discusses a search for an antidote (surprisingly) to a newfound disease, and how the cure is simply within us all. In "Wake up," the topic is how we usually take our lives for granted, and that when we do, our lives become useless, just as we take them to be. The lyrics would fit musically to most music, and to SOTY's music as well, of course. Though Marsala's lyrics are worthy of applause, his voice is his truly standout quality. Dan flawlessly switches from beautifully on-key, melodic vocals, to heat-laced raspy vocals, and even to unbelievable screams on some occasions. // 10

Overall Impression: To put this album into perspective, this album is now in league with probably any album I have ever heard. It reaches out to a very wide audience, and is deserving of a lot more attention than it is getting. I hate to sound like I worship SOTY, but this is the best album I have heard in a very long time. Call me crazy if you want, but it is up there with Nevermind, Led Zeppelin IV, The End of Heartache, Ashes Of The Wake, Rust In Peace, and any other great album you want to put up there. Some day, I wouldn't be surprised if this music was curing cancer. As much as I try, I cannot hate anything about this album, and I can be very finnicky about tiny details. This album truly is awesome in every year, and I don't think there is a single song I don't like. The epic half-time drumbeats, incredible guitar riffs and solos, unexpectedly killer basslines and soaring vocals make this album truly one of the greatest in history. As for what I might do if this album were stolen. Well, we don't need to get into that, it's too violent to describe. Songs like Wake Up, The Antidote, Choose Your Fate and Message To The World are melodic rock masterpieces, making this album more than just another SOTY album. This however, is my humble opinion, and I encourage you to hear this for yourself and lose days of your life to this album. // 10

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overall: 10
The Black Swan Reviewed by: Murderintheink, on may 08, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: So if you've been following SOTY since their release you'll have noticed that their guitars have been getting more cranked, more bassier, their drums have been goin from the really highpitch snare to a more full sound, and Dan Marsala has gotten to be an amazing singer/screamer/songwriter. I'd have to say this is their best CD just because the songs are so damn catchy and that now I can actually hear guitars better than sound effects. These dudes used to be signed to Maverick, then to a major label and now "The Black Swan" was released on Epitaph, a independent label that sparks some of the best out there today. The guitars on this album range from beautiful lullaby-like ("Terrified") to throw down hardcore ("Choose Your Fate") and big ("Message To The World") this CD is all over the place. Everyone will love it. // 10

Lyrics: Dan Marsala is an amaizng song writer, he can deliver that emotional message without flaw. Marsala delivers that type of emotion through soaring vocals which have been polished since "In The Wake Of Determination" to hardcore roar-like screams, Dan does it all. The lyrics aren't forced at all, which is unique due to the fact of how emotional and powerful his lyrics are. // 10

Overall Impression: This CD is amazing. It's a beautiful mix of bipolarness, tender soft spots switchinf to wicked hardcore riffs, sweet messages to a lover to overall hatred. All the songs on this album are impressive, it's a CD you can listen to over and over and still get blown away from it. The only down point is that the screaming is limited to a couple songs because Dan is so good at what he does and some guitar parts just need the screams in it. If it were stolen I'd find the dude and kill him. Or just go buy another one, this needs to be in your collection now. // 10

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