Story Of The Year – Tear Me To Pieces (Album Review)

story of the year tear me to pieces album review

Story of the Year – Tear Me To Pieces
Released: March 10, 2023

Story of the Year lineup

Dan Marsala // Lead Vocals
Ryan Phillips // Lead Guitar & Vocals
Adam Russell // Guitar, Vocals
Josh Wills // Drums

Story of the Year online


It’s hard to fathom it’s been 20 years since Story of the Year unveiled their breakthrough debut album Page Avenue in 2003… 20 years, holy shit we are old! That album paved the way for the post-hardcore act to rise up through the scene alongside the likes of The Used, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage, Paramore, Saosin… okay I’ll be here all day if I keep going. If you’ve ever been referred to as an Elder Emo, you’ll get what I mean, if you’re new here – quick catch up.

SOTY have been ingrained in the scene for as long as mobile phones began having music as ringtones. Their stage shows are mesmerising and full of (backflipping) energy that matches the heaviest moments on their albums – think pop punk singalongs with a blend of screams and you’ve got the makings of what makes this band so special. Sophomore album In The Wake Of Determination (2005) is top-tier material and The Black Swan (2008) saw the band start heading in a melodic route, but still packed a worthy punk-driven punch where needed. They received a bit of commercial success in Australia with ‘I’m Alive‘ from their 2010 album The Constant, before releasing their 2017 album Wolves without a label backing. Their fans pledged funds to help the album come to fruition and it featured some kick-ass tracks, but sadly still sits underrated (maybe because it was released at the end of the year in holiday time).

Now, they’re honing in on the nostalgia factor (but in a good way) with Tear Me To Pieces, which even features the same falling man silhouette on their debut release’s artwork, and after sitting on this album for just under 3 months, I can safely say it’s done with the right intentions and evolution.

We’ve had five singles from the album released so far including ‘Real Life‘, title-track ‘Tear Me To Pieces‘, ‘Take The Ride‘, ‘War‘ and most recently, ‘2005‘ – each song upped the ante of anticipation for the release and proved this band still are the shit after all these years.

With the likes of ‘Tear Me To Pieces‘, we’re taken straight back to that Page Avenue era with Dan’s cleans and the rock-filled instrumentals and riffs harking back to that breakthrough release. This single has constantly been on repeat for me because of those perfectly timed screams and breakdowns. It sounds like it could have been a leftover track from that year and I am all for it. ‘Real Life‘ nestles itself around The Constant/Wolves era, focusing more on the upbeat, pop punk elements of the band. If you love frontman Dan Marsala‘s clean singing, you’ll swoon in this track.

Afterglow‘ is your first taste of unreleased SOTY and it’s another goddamn trip back in time. Fast drums, hard breakdowns and ominous synth hit you in the face BUT for all the scene dads, you’re gonna get a reality check like never before when Dan sings about the mental health struggles he faces in this day and age – where he’s a father AND a son. Yep, the daddy issues from yesteryear are back, only this time it’s even more relatable for us in the same position.

‘I’m a father and I am a son / but I don’t know how to tell them that I / I’ve come undone / I paint it black, I’m torn in half/ it feels like I’m under attack / it can’t get worse when it hurts this bad / then you save meeeee’

I’ve wanted to hear maturity and growth in bands I used to listen to back in the day and this is the first example of a group I’ve grown up with reflecting on life in 2023 and it just made me connect with this song on a much closer level. Because it feels current and not from the past. Well done SOTY, this is how you do it. ‘Dead And Gone‘ ups the tempo and screams tenfold for what could be a sequel to ‘And The Hero Will Drown‘. Catchy vocals, group vox and a flow as fast as a circle pit at a music festival. I hope they play this at Knotfest Australia (or their East Coast sideshows), I will take my 35-year-old body for the best mosh it’s ever seen! ‘War‘ is so close to perfection that it’s not even funny. In my initial single review, I said it’s got themes similar to their Wolves album but it’d sit alongside classics like ‘Anthem of Our Dying Day‘, ‘Our Time is Now‘, and ‘The Antidote‘ and I still stand by that fact. If you haven’t heard it yet, uppercut yourself!

Can’t Save You‘ is another post-hardcore jam that’ll please long-term fans, ‘2005‘ on the other hand is an acoustic/balladesque throwback that’s part country song, part time capsule with references to, you guessed it, the year 2005. It sounds cheesy in parts, but that could just be the boomer inside me going ‘errr, 2005 wasn’t even that long ago, why are they throwing back to… 18 years ago!?’ If you’re stuck in the past or just want a refresher of the mid-2000s glory years, you’ll probably love this one, but for me, it just didn’t sit right… No matter how many times I’ve heard it.

The slow tempo and acoustic guitars stick around for ‘Sorry About Me‘, a self-reflective emo anthem akin to ‘Sidewalks‘. I love that song, so I HAVE to love this one too. Nothing will change that. Anthemic. Ballady. Beautiful. This is how you throw back to the past and bring those elements forward two decades without sounding stale or desperate.

Take The Ride‘ slaps and continues the band’s fascination with the early hours of the AM (IYKYK) with lyrics that go ‘it’s 4 in the morning and I’m alone / so what if I get lost on my way home / turn out the headlights I don’t know where I’m going’, you’ll be turning this up as loud as you can on your way to your dead end job… or the school pick up. ‘Knives Out‘ features some throwback elements (such as guitar riffs), but for the most part, it’s the first newish sound I’ve heard from the band in 6 years. There’s a rockin’ guitar solo, group vox and an overall emo-esque sound, but it could very much be an album filler. While every other song before it had some substance to it (yes including ‘2005‘) this one just feels like it’s missing something I can’t put my finger on. Depth? Meaning? I can’t quite say, tell me if you hear the same thing when you get around to listening to this one.

Rounding out SOTY‘s return is ‘Use Me‘ – we’re met with an acoustic guitar and Dan’s heartwarming, yet anguish-filled vocals leading us into what presents itself as a rocky relationship song. He sings about the want and desires of someone who doesn’t feel the same way about him and as the emotions flow, the song slowly builds, but there’s no crescendo climax, the song reminds the same tempo throughout and while it could have been the perfect spot for a huge outro, they’ve played their cards close to their heart and opted for a sombre approach to their closing track.

Story of the Year managed to bottle up the nostalgic sounds and vibes of their earlier material, add a few new and improved touches, and produce an album that would sit comfortably around their 2003/2005 era. Tear Me To Pieces is in no way shape or form a nostalgia cash-in though; each song stands on its own legs and showcases the talent within this band that still manages to strike a chord with their loyal fanbase, two decades later.

While similar bands are currently riding the wave of nostalgia, Story of the Year are surfing in a forward-thinking direction, proving good stories last a lifetime!

story of the year tear me to pieces album review

Story Of The Year – Tear Me To Pieces tracklisting

1. Tear Me To Pieces
2. Real Life
3. Afterglow
4. Dead And Gone
5. War
6. Can’t Save You
7. 2005
8. Sorry About Me
9. Take The Ride
10. Knives Out
11. Use Me

Rating: 8.5/10
Tear Me To Pieces is out Friday. Pre-order/save here
Review by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown (@brownypaul)

About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3765 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!