When freed from the constraints of major label interference, many bands feel liberated. With the new-found freedom of expression, they can finally explore the darkest recesses of their imagination, boldly experimenting with new sounds and ideas.
It turns out that Story of the Year actually wanted to sound like a generic, radio-friendly, pseudo-aggressive pop-punk band. Who'd of thunk it!
Opening with a recording of the most sampled man of the decade, George Walker Bush, the band then proceed to show off their razor-sharp political commentary by screaming 'Liar!' repeatedly for the next three minutes. Interspersed within this is a slight amendment to the emo lyricism handbook, (We're not calling them 'emo' here, so no complaining!) they switch 'dagger' for 'bombs', 'heart' for 'tongue' and 'died' for, well, 'die', but it's a tense change, so that's something.
Story of the Year could never be referred to as a bad band per se. It just seems apparent that they are unsure of their place in the scheme of things. All the standard desperation additions are present. The aforementioned attempts at injecting gravitas into their song-writing. The unnecessary stabs at 'sick' guitar shredding on "The Antidote", (there's a reason that few people like Letter Kills) the even more pointless shot at using philosophical ramblings to make them sound more adult. ("Pale Blue Dot") Even the late-in-the-game rock ballad is present, ("Terrified") keep an eye out for them, they're usually either track 6, 10 or 11 on an album.
What the boys do do well is their patented, energised, call and response punk-offs. Tracks like "Wake Up" and "Tell Me" will likely re-claim the love for the band that has faded as the memory of "Until the Day I Die" has grown dimmer. That said though, they do repeat the same formula a few too many times for their own good. There's only so many times you can pull off: Big riff intro, (with optional phaser effect) kick-down with smooth vocals, back to big riff, bit o' screaming.
Whilst there're better bands that pull off what Story of the Year attempt (Rise Against, Hell is For Heroes, Fightstar, Lostprophets (stretching the definition of 'better' with that one) and One Minute Silence for example) it's unlikely that they'll find a wider audience. But it's distinctly more likely that their existing fans will find plenty to love as they blast it out the windows of their 4x4's, screaming along with the music about how much they hate corporations and the government.