The first track on “Determination” is so ready for radio; couple symphonic rock with shrill guitars, multiple-vocals and an intensity that never quits, and Story of the Year has started back up where they left off on their last disc. This strong opening continues during “Take Me Back”, with lead vocalist Chris smoothly resting eir vocals above the intense and intricate guitar/drum dynamic during the track. Throw in a chunky bass and one has the finishing touches to a great band that equally affects all listeners. While each of the tracks on “Determination” have a catchy tempo and a very euphonic song, it is during tracks like “Our Time Is Now” where the band starts to challenge the dominant paradigm of time signatures.
The fluid signatures on this track, influenced heavily by “Exit English-era” Strike Anywhere, really works well in the Story of the Year context. The disc’s first slower track comes in “Taste The Poison”; where it takes a little longer for individuals to get into the track, the fact is that is still maintains the same fire and fury even if the pacing is a little bit slower. In this sense, Story of the Year really orients itself with the metal-punk of Sum 41 during this track. While the tracks on “Determination” are all perfectly groomed for a life on MTV and popular radio, the fact is that the disc is not the repetition of one song thirteen times. Rather, the songs all enjoy some amount of cohesion without the band falling into a rut half-way through.
It may just be during “Five Against The World” that the band is busting through the next level of talent; the vocals really dictate the harmony but the instrumentation sits on the track, free from staleness (in this track alone, hair metal riffs a la Van Halen mix with the crunchy sound of Disturbed) while a Nelson-like tempo is recalled due to the presence of a multiple harmony and the vaguest hint of synthesizer. Oh, and don’t forget the required sizzling guitar solo. Throw in a perfect pit track (in “Jarhead”) and practically every thread of current (and many of the past) musics has been covered to near-perfection by Story of the Year. This is not the band that did “Anthem of our Dying Day”; this is intensity, this is hardcore.
Top Tracks: Jarhead, Five Against The World