Musical quality takes a dive on new Story of the Year album

Kristen Kotz

Story of the Year

The Black Swan

Released by

Epitaph Records

Stater rating (out of five): **

The third time is not a charm for the emo band Story of the Year. Its third album, The Black Swan, suffers from weak vocals on several of its tracks. Good playing by the band’s guitarist, Ryan Phillips, and interesting rhythm changes prevent the album from being a complete disaster.

The album’s title track, “The Black Swan,” has a haunting feel to it. It starts with some catchy guitar riffs from Phillips and strong showing from the band’s drummer, Josh Willis, on the drums. Both of these things work to draw listeners into it. This leads into the singing of the band’s vocalist, Don Marsala. His screaming of the song’s chorus, “to the grave — take to the grave — take to the grave” becomes repetitive quickly, causing the song to fall below its potential.

“Choose Your Fate,” the album’s first song, is also one of its weakest. The band’s vocalist, Don Marsala takes a metal approach to his vocals in this song. His attempts at screaming, however, fall short. His voice sounds forced and cracks throughout the entire song. The vocals also clash with the pop style of the chorus, making for a rather odd mix.

The song “The Antidote” features interesting rhythm changes. The tempo slows down and speeds up several times throughout the song. Phillips’ intricate guitar work is evident in this song as well in this song as well. While Marsala’s voice does seem shaky at the beginning of the song, he mellows and puts good performance.

The album’s strongest song is “Cannonball.” It features outstanding guitar work from Phillips in a well-excuted guitar solo in this song. He moves from one chord to another quickly and with ease. His playing sounds effortless to the listener. Marsala’s vocals are surprisingly strong on this track. His vocals are not strained and blend together with the rest of the band.

Music aside, Story of the Year is giving back to the community with The Black Swan. It is donating a part of the proceeds from album sales to charity. Royalties will go to The Carl Sagan Academy, a public middle school trying to end poverty in Hillsborough County, Fla.

The Black Swan is not a strong performance for Story of the Year. Phillips’ strong guitar playing and the interesting changes in tempo cannot make up for the album’s low points. The only real reason to buy the album is because some of the proceeds will go to a good cause.

Contact all reporter Kristen Kotz at [email protected].