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, million-selling 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.
Ferocious and thought-provoking, The Black Swan finds Story of the Year in the rare position of being one of the biggest bands in the world, while being left to its own devices to evolve and flourish creatively.
"I hope people really read into the lyrics and respect the fact that we don't sing about lollipops and gummi-bears," Ryan explains. "Musically, we've grown so much. We have some very unique, timeless, face melting guitar riffs and solos that have come to define our sound, without compromising the idea of a classic song."