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Story of the Year album veers off beaten path

Nov. 30, 2005

by STEPHEN CORTEZ, contributor

On Story of the Year's second release, In the Wake of Determination, the band attempts to take its sound in a new, heavier direction.

Lead singer Dan Marsala has gone on record saying the group's immensely popular Page Avenue didn't properly represent the band or their full-throttle live show -- which is well worth the money, by the way.

In an industry where most bands put out albums that are toned down and more accessible to the radio-friendly audience, Story of the Year chose to go the opposite direction by releasing a record that is significantly more aggressive and hardcore.

The guitar work shines on this album, displaying some of the band's most prominent musical talents.

It is more deeply tuned and pummeling than anything from Page Avenue, with the occasional short solo and tons of moments made for the mosh pit.

The singing is similar to the first album and the lyrics follow the same general "dealing with life" theme that every pop-punk band wails about.

A few songs slip through the cracks and let the band's undeniable pop style shine through.

The album's first single, "We Don't Care Anymore," and more-than-likely next single "Take Me Back" are catchy and easy on the ears, although they do include the traditional heavy breakdowns, which on "We Don't Care Anymore" is one of the best on the album.

The intensity picks up on tracks like "Meathead," which may have some of the worst lyrics, but the energy makes up for it.

The most impressive song is "'Is This My Fate' He Asked Them." It is by far the longest Story of the Year song, clocking in at a little over five minutes, and offers a little bit of everything -- an interesting intro, fast-paced verses and chorus, excellent breakdowns and an ending that curdles the blood.

If you're a previous Story of the Year fan, don't look for tracks like "Sidewalks" or "Anthem of Our Dying Day."

In the Wake of Determination has shades of its catchy songs, but it seems like the band was trying to get away from its popular music. It is much more directed at the intense moments from Page Avenue, with an even heavier guitar to back it up this time.

That being said, the band's progression is enviable and the result is very good, but still far from excellent.

The songs are fun to listen to, but they lack depth. At times the full-throttle guitar action can overcome the band when it forget that its Story of the Year and not Metallica.

There are a few moments where it just don't quite pull it off.

Some people will have mixed reactions to this album, because it's not quite what was expected. That just happens to be what I like about it.

Grade: B