With its explosive, infectious roar, “Wake Up” alerts Story of the Year’s fanatical, global following that the epic, uplifting The Black Swan is upon us. An artistic triumph in every sense, the beloved, millionselling band’s third studio album is unequivocally its finest, building on the strength of past accomplishments while celebrating a newfound allegiance with Epitaph.
“Making this record felt like starting over,” says Dan Marsala, frontman for the St. Louis”reared quintet. “We’re like a brand new band. You can hear it in these songs, we’re excited again. I think we’ve really stepped it up on this record.”
If Story of the Year’s career achievements ““ from 2003’s smash debut Page Avenue to headlining massive festivals such as the Van’s Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos, to world tours with the likes of My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park and The Used ““ have been abundant, they’ve also been the result of the esteemed modern rock outfit’s tireless work ethic and willingness to push boundaries musically. Approaching the follow”up to 2005’s In the Wake of Determination with a burst of creative freedom, Story of the Year ““ which also counts guitarists Ryan Phillips and Philip Sneed, bassist Adam Russell and drummer Josh Wills ““ elevates The Black Swan with these same key convictions.
Leaps and bounds beyond the standards of what an alt”rock anthem can be in 2008, the remarkably powerful, hopeful and deeply personal “Tell Me” is undeniable. “It opens with a fucking gnarly, classic riff that hits you right between the eyes,” Ryan enthuses.
“It’s about our band,” Dan acknowledges. “Before we signed to Epitaph, things were up in the air for us. We knew we didn’t want to be on a major label anymore. We were like, “˜What does this mean? Is our band done?’ We really had to work through it and it was a weird time for us. But it’s also been a really positive experience. Like, “˜we’re going to get through this together and nothing can stop us!'”
Thematically based around the concept of impactful, unpredictable events, The Black Swan hits home with Story of the Year in that it relates to a massively successful rock band breaking free of confines and restrictions to thrive on its own terms. “Epitaph seemed like the perfect place for us at this time in our career,” Ryan explains. “It’s a much more creative environment.” To which Dan adds, “We could tell that Brett [Gurewitz, Epitaph’s founder] loved the songs.”