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The Black Swan (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Story of the Year claim to have finally found their musical identity with The Black Swan, their first indie release via Epitaph after two studio albums over on Maverick Records; it sounds to be basically a fusion of the band's prior releases, a happy middle ground somewhere between the soul-searching alt rock anthems of their debut and the harder, gutsier In the Wake of Determination. But as self-assured as that may sound, all it really means is, well, The Black Swan is another Story of the Year album. This predictability doesn't necessarily make a tiresome set — exhilarating closer "Welcome to Our New War" finishes the proceedings with a nice adrenaline rush — just one that's pretty much expected, which will probably comfort some, but do nothing to convert anyone still sitting on the fence. Fans will bask in the familiar rise and fall sing-scream dynamics of songs like "Wake Up," "Choose Your Fate," and "Apathy Is a Deathwish," while elsewhere they'll appreciate relatively softer moments, as in the soaring emotions of "We're Not Gonna Make It" and the piano-embossed ballad "Terrified," which comes complete with gentle drum rolls and sweet vocal harmonies. Songs build, crash, chug and crescendo as expected, proving that Story of the Year's new home on Epitaph does nothing to alter or influence the quintet's take on emotional, accessible rock music with hardcore flourishes. It's superficially an odd pairing of label and band, but one that ultimately affects little more than the logo stamped on the album's back cover.

Customer Reviews

Great Album!

Let me start out this review by saying that I really enjoyed the last album. I thought that in comparison to "Page Avenue", it showed a lot of maturity and that they were more than just another addition to the endless catalogue of screamo bands. Now for this album, Story Of The Year follows up their fantastic "In The Wake Of Determination" with another great album. At times this album shines with progression but at others it falls victim to simple and overused melodies. Having said that, It's without question that these guys can rock and lyrically they are at the top of their game. Even the slowed down, poppy "Terrified" has decent lyrics. They definitely didn't forget their fans of songs like "Is This My Fate?", "Jarhead" and "Pay Your Enemy", which can all be found on their previous release but these harder moments seem to occur less, which is a shame because they truly were the highlights of the last album. While "Terrified" feels like the new "Sidewalks", many of the songs on this album fall into the category of the first half of "In The Wake Of Determination". I really think this album is a solid release, it will definitely be loved by fans of either one or both of their previous releases, as it kind of feels like a mix of the two. While this album takes more of a step sideways than a step forward, there is certainly no lack of energy and definitely shows that these guys still know how to rock. 4/5.

It's good to hear SOTY again!

This album is really excellent. I enjoyed "In the wake of Determination" but I enjoyed "Page Avenue" much more, like most SOTY fans. I would say "The Black Swan" has mashed both albums together giving more drive similar to Page Avenue, yet has a more mature sound that SOTY was trying to hone in Determination, but fell a little short. This album makes me want to listen from beginning to end, much like Page Avenue did, so to sum it all up. If you enjoyed Page Avenue, you'll enjoy this. If you came in on "In the Wake Of Determination", you'll love this album! If this is your first SOTY listening, get this and Page Avenue, what are you waiting for?

i couldn't be happier to say that story of the year is officially BACK!

story of the year was once upon a time one of my favorite bands, with their excellent debut 'page avenue'. the album covered so much ground and was revolutionary in the punk/hardcore/screamo genre. then came 'in the wake of determination', which this SOTY fan didn't like as much because of the departure from the ballads that i loved to a massive overhaul of screaming. luckily, they've learned from their mistakes and put out the excellent 'the black swan'. the first single and second track "wake up" is an incredibly powerful track that all story of the year fans will love. i fell in love with the first half of the album, especially "the antidote", "the black swan", and "message to the world". the second half is also great, with tracks like "we're not gonna make it" and "cannonball" blowing the listener away. also new to the scene is a great blend of guitar solos that really work for the band. with 'the black swan', SOTY has become one of the most well rounded and most enjoyable bands working today. incredible album, and i'm incredibly happy to call myself a SOTY fan again. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Formed: 1995 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Story of the Year took root in the late '90s under a different name, Big Blue Monkey, in St. Louis, MO. At the time of its inception, the band's sound was much heavier (similar to the Deftones), and the lineup that would eventually become Story of the Year was not yet in place. Big Blue Monkey played frequent shows in the St. Louis area, issued several EPs, and endured the lineup fluctuations typical to any struggling combo. Creative and persistent self-promotion soon caught the ear of producer John...
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