“From Whines to Wails” (Quadnews.net)
Every modern-era college student can remember back to when “Anthem of Our Dying Day” was another song in the soundtrack to the after-school detention halls and two week relationships that epitomized middle school. The swinging pop-punk melodies and pubescent whining was a widespread adolescent addiction. However, you can kiss the days of Paige Avenue good-bye.
In 2005, Story Of The Year completely revamped their sound, in both vocals and instrumentals, in their release of In the Wake of Determination. Ditching their previous producers to unleash their raw sound, the group went into the studio with a new mentality. A sub-culture shock for most previous fans, this album brought in vast elements of heavy metal riffing and a larger presence of hardcore screaming. With fast-paced drum beats and face-melting guitar parts, Story Of The Year blew away their old sound with this newly charged anger that truly transformed them into heavy-hitters of modern rock.
Following this transformation, the freshly changed band released another album in 2008, The Black Swan. Story Of The Year blew me away yet again with an even darker, harder release to punch away all that was left of my previous perceptions of their older pop-toppers. With jams such as the first track “Choose Your Fate” nearly blowing my subwoofer to shreds, the band again beat the bar of their standard even higher.
After two more years, word hit the press that the boys are back in town. Announcing the release of a new album, The Constant, my hopes were obviously high. Due out on Feb. 16th, I had to sneak an early peek to calm my anticipation. I will say, I am far from disappointed. One could often ask how many albums a band can drag on the same sound for, but Story Of The Year managed to adapt yet again.
The Constant takes all the flourishing elements of their previous releases and combines them into one epic sound I can safely place under the umbrellas of arena and hard rock. Taking a combination of both the chest-pounding riffs released in the most recent two albums and the melodic verses of the old days, Story Of The Year produces a set that takes me back to my headbanging high school days as an angst-ridden teenager. However, now the lyrics are more serious (showing some hints of dabbling with certain social issues in addition to the usual, emotional charge) and the sound is more mature.
The first track on the album, “The Children Sing,” is by far my favorite, producing an anthem-worthy sound that displays this new lyrical charge backed by heavy electric riffs that give me a serious case of the chills. “The Burial” is another track that also brings the same type of heat while the single off the album, “I’m Alive,” displays more of a mellow overtone that glimpses back to their original sounds with a more modern focus. The rest of the album as a whole releases the same kind of energy as these three songs without wearing out its welcome.
It is clear that this band is here to stay. Managing to take two completely different previous sounds and combining them into another compilation (successfully) is a feat that not many bands can throw down on their resume. Story Of The Year continues to give me faith that Hard Rock is nowhere near its death. With their entire discography since the days of Paige Avenue rocking my speakers fairly equally, this newest adds even more spice to the melting pot. Not enough bands still pack the same punch that these guys pound out, and I can only hope there are those ready to follow their lead.
Published Version: The Quad News 2/14/20