STORY OF THE YEAR
Tear Me to Pieces
POST-HARDCORE: Story of the Year is one of those consistently solid bands that doesn’t get enough credit as pioneers of the pivotal post-hardcore era. Tear Me to Pieces, their massively fun and poignant sixth record, pays homage to the era when most of us fell in love with the band while maintaining a fresh and progressive feel.
Right off the bat, the title track explodes with familiar Story of the Year fervor and joy. Dan Marsala’s shapeshifting vocals seem to possess many characters within the record as a whole, constantly displaying an unparalleled range. “Real Life” kicks in as a catchy radio-friendly tune with a great buildup and a darkly romantic emo sentimentality, with Marsala’s signature screams alongside harmonies to die for. “Glow” is textbook Story of the Year, full of heart and a message of struggle for trust in one’s toughest times, with guitarist Ryan Phillips’ love for classic metal on full display.
Throwing back to Page Avenue (2003) staples, like “In the Shadows,” is “Dead and Gone” (“It’s too late to say you’re sorry, those things are dead and gone”), while “War” anchors the record as the standout single (accompanied by their best video to date), a reminder that Story of the Year can craft scream heavy tracks right before busting into arena fist-pumpers. The old school angst factor is cranked to 11 with “Can’t Save You” before Tear Me to Pieces shifts from aggressive to more mellow and touching with the incredibly nostalgic “2005,” a song almost 20 years in the making.
“Sorry About Me” gives another reprieve, embodying a heartbreakingly relatable and self-aware apology before bouncing back into sing-along territory with “Take the Ride.” “Knives Out” brings the volume back up with quick strike, winding lyrical delivery (“Playing with matches, burn me to ashes!”) and vivid imagery Story of the Year fans have come to know. Wrapping the record up in a tidy bow is “Use Me,” a ballad of a final breath of relief from the beautiful assault of the senses that Tear Me to Pieces delivers at every turn.
Melodic, relentless, and vibrant, Tear Me to Pieces could have been the direct follow-up to the record that started it all for the St. Louis four. A huge part of the band’s charm comes from their genuine friendship and comradery, which has been made public over the years through insanely funny DVDs and social media. When a band has a debut album absolutely blow the doors off the genre, it can be difficult to graciously step out from under that umbrella and experiment with new sounds, new producers, and new themes, but Story of the Year has spent the past 20 years proving that they are the exception to the rule. ~ Jameson Ketchum