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Story of the Year - The Black Swan

Story of the Year, The Black Swan

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ALT-ROCK heavyweights Story Of The Year claim that new album The Black Swan felt like “a starting over”.

Says frontman Dan Marsala: “We’re like a new band. You can hear it in the songs, we’re excited again. I think we’ve really stepped it up on this record.”

That may be so, but the results are negligible. This is a heavy rock album with the emphasis on heavy. What’s more, it’s predictable. The usual themes surface – such as war, prejudice, social issues and morality.

Guitars gush forth with towering riffs, drums pound and Marsala injects as much fury as possible, his skyscraping vocals akin to bands like Nickelback, Def Leppard, Linkin Park (at their heaviest) and other bands at various stages.

The themes are obvious; the songwriting somewhat half-hearted. Yes, they’re angry at certain things. So are we all. But by not creating a distinct sound of their own, they do rather fade into the masses.

The album opens with a radio segueway that blurs President Bush’s assurances concerning the war on terror with news footage, before proclaiming “liar – slipped from the tongue like the breath of a prophet – cloaked in blood kissed with a bomb from the heart of the flawless number one”.

The song, Choose Your Fate, goes on to proclaim “freedom is a loaded word”.

But much more loaded is the conceit behind the album. It’s a rallying call of easy sentiment, designed to empower the disenfranchised youth with easy proclomations and condemnations. The world does suck, at times, but it’s not that simple.

Later on, Message To The World imparts such pearls as: “We’ve got so much to lose with American eyes, yeah, and curious hearts we’ve got so much to learn, so we fight…”

While We’re Not Gonna Make It adds: “We’re not gonna make it until the lines that divide start to fade away.”

A song title declaring Apathy Is a Death Wish at least attempts to stir a nation into taking action as individuals if they want change – but it’s a heavy-handed approach that’s echoed in the thunderous riffs and drums that accompany it.

The overall result is a relentless rocker that rather overstates the issue. But with generic power riffs and every song designed to fill the upper echelons of music stadiums, it’s a dispiriting listen.

I’m sure alt-rock fans will point out that we’re an indie site, so have no basis reviewing louder rock material. But just so you know, the indie in London stands for independent thinking, not any particular music genre, so we’re not being biased, merely honest. We didn’t think that much of this album.

Track listing:

  1. Choose Your Fate
  2. Wake Up
  3. The Antidote
  4. Tell Me
  5. Angel In The Swamp
  6. The Black Swan
  7. Message To The Web
  8. Apathy Is A Deathwish
  9. We’re Not Gonna Make It
  10. Apathy Is A Deathwish
  11. We’re Not Gonna Make It
  12. Cannonball
  13. Terrified
  14. Pale Blue Dot
  15. Welcome To Our New War