Category Archives: alternative

Music Review: Story of the Year – The Constant

The American Idiot‘s and Viva La Vada‘s of this world are hard to ignore, but anyone can like them and it not be anything unusual. What is truly great about music is when you find that album you didn’t know was coming out, even if you spend time now and again picking apart the unreleased album page on Wikipedia (which tend to be a pretty reliable source of release info by-the-by), you can often suddenly notice an album which has been released completely under your radar.

These hidden gems are what make music great, and my latest discovery was Story of the Years new release ‘The Constant‘. While I was eagerly anticipating Alkaline Trio’s new release (This Addiction, which sadly falls well short of the greatness they achieved on From Here to Infirmary), I came across this furious mix of melody and energy.

The album opens with the slightly grating sound of an old children’s roundabout, with the sound of children playing in the background before the children themselves begin the intro with chilling choral vocal “Don’t take this world away from me” before the main riff kicks in.

As well as ‘The Children Sing other stand-out tracks include the distinctly Lostprophets-ish ‘The Dream is Over’, which boasts an impressive guitar solo section, and the anthemic ‘I’m Alive’, a dedication to a disaffected youth which remains ever-present but never over-bearing throughout the album.

Despite being a very ‘punk rock’ record, the band calm down for a few tracks in the middle, notably the strangely harmonic ‘Holding on to You’, giving some welcome variety, something quite uncommon on this type of album. In stark contrast to that is the angry ‘Won Threw Ate’, which shows off the screamier side of the bands range, but is just restrained enough to mean it doesn’t stray too far from the general sound of ‘The Constant’ as a whole.

Story of The Year, who have been around since 1995, are never a band who will take the UK charts by storm, and nor should they, but they have pulled the experience of their previous three albums into making this latest effort, and it really pays off. The songs are more ambitious musically, but not unnecessarily complex, and the album holds together incredibly well, particularly important with a name like ‘The Constant‘.

While you may dismiss them as another one of the ‘shouty american rock’ crowd, that would be a mistake, since this album shows a respectable range and draws on various influences to create songs which at times are alike to Rise Against, Nickelback and even Simple Plan, which is no bad thing.

Verdict: Undeniably catchy and well thought out, an essential addition to any modern alternative music collection.

Rating: 5/5

James Michael Parry

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Album Review: Muse – The Resistance

Like an eerie remake of the Doctor Who theme tune, The Resistance trundles into life with the haunting “Uprising”, its first single, ushering in a welcome return for Devon’s greatest ever export: Muse.

It’s three years since the band’s epic Black Holes and Revelations stormed the charts, delivering the band their second number one album and the first to go double-platinum, as well as the distinctly un-Muse-like single “Supermassive Black Hole”.

Listening to Resistance the gaps between the Muse of old and the band as they are now have been filled in, stripping back some of the dancier elements in favour of a more bass-driven sound like that used on breakthrough release Origin of Symmetry.

The album as a whole takes rebellion as its central theme, and despite much discussion about its 15 minute song, the “Exogenisis: Symphony”, it is tucked away at the end of the record, but provides a worthy climax of musical and song-writing prowess to summarise what the entire album is about.

The piano makes a welcome return in this album, with over half of the tracks featuring frontman Matt Bellamy’s instrument of choice prominently, creating moments where the band resembles Freddie Mercury’s Queen. In many ways they have become the Queen of the modern day, since no other current guitar-based British band has maintained popularity for so long with such a theatrical feeling.

The third track, “Undisclosed Desires”, (the second of four tracks beginning with ‘U’ on the album) deserves to be the strongest single release, with the synthesized strings and relentless beat driving forward a story of the deadly nature of love.

There’s none of the anger of Black Holes’ “Assassin” here, but that doesn’t mean the album is without it’s powerful moments, just that they come in dark lyrical choices and a continuous strong bassline. The guitar takes a back seat once again this time, with only a few notable riffs to speak of, but strangely it isn’t missed as much as expected, as the other instruments step up to take its place.

Bellamy teasingly reminds us of one of the band’s staples in “Unnatural Selection” by basing the riff around the impact-ridden guitar intro section of “New Born”, suggesting it may be some sort of sequel, something which the band have done in the past with “Sing For Absolution” and “Starlight”.

Every track feels very much at home, unlike the occasional track in the past where you feel the band have dropped the ball and things sound out of place like “Hoodoo” or “Megalomania”, this album is complete and listens well all the way through without nagging you to skip past to the next song.

The album as a whole is one where tranquility and anger are uneasy bedfellows. In “United States of Eurasia” for example, the sombre piano quickly makes way for a flurry of musical build up, but the transition is well handled and serves to hold the audiences attention. Because it is for an audience, as much as a CD is designed for a listener, this one is presented as a spectacle; grand strings, foreign vocals and quiet moments combine with pounding drums and bellowing bass to create nothing short of a fully modern rock opera.