Review Summary: Who knew nostalgia could sound so good?
Story of the Year is one of those bands whom I will always cherish for being a gateway band, so whenever I hear a song from "Page Avenue" or "In the Wake of Determination", I always feel a little nostalgic, especially for the time when I thought "Is this my fate? he asked them" was the most hardcore thing ever. After the disappointing release of "The Constant", I had begun to fall away from them searching for something new. When I heard that the band were going to release an acoustic reimagining of Page Avenue, I found myself pleasantly surprised and interested, hoping the band's return to their breakout would bring back the passion present on the first two records. Upon Ten Years and Counting's release and acquisition at their Ace of Spades tour date, I have not only been pleased with the release, I have been blown away. The nostalgia of listening to adolescent favorites combined with the new elements to these very same songs have not only increased the longevity and worth of the music but brought it to new heights.
Opening track "And the Hero Will Drown" is fantastic, having been transformed from an in-your-face moshing rocker to an introverted ballad. Dan's voice sounds more mature and better than ever, never once overstepping his limits, and yet, never boring the listener. Dan's voice and the piano become the forefront, meshing beautifully. Strings are present, but only just barely, just enough to propel the track's momentum and passion. Throughout the album, the vocals are consistently solid, and even surprising, especially in "In the Shadows". The screams are crisp, rusty, and pleasing. Fan favorite "Sidewalks" is brilliant; the voice never nasally and still passionate, and catchy enough to have you singing along to the same song, ten years later. In fact, this could be said for the entire record. Ryan and Phil, the guitarists, sound as good as they always have. This time around, they trade their meaty guitar riffing for minimalist rhythm and 80's inspired leads. Ryan's solo in "Sidewalks" is brilliant, showing his skill as a guitarist. The acoustic strumming and pianos by Phil are beautiful, opting instead of stealing the show to backing Dan's vocals and Ryan's leads.
The rhythm section of Adam's bass and Josh's Drums are impressive as well. Adam provides the much needed lower end to the sound, filling out the guitars' higher end. His bass work is neither flashy or attention seeking but isn't boring either; he's here to keep everything sounding full and to build on the listening experience as a whole. Josh's subdued drumming is also neither flashy nor ambitious, his drumming is basically a subdued version of what he did on page avenue; still impressive, and just enough to make the listening experience even better. Sometimes, the band throws curve balls that somehow don't throw you off. The electronics that appear in "In the Shadows" came out of nowhere, renovating a another moshy number to a song much better suited for listening at home alone.
The record was an extremely pleasant surprise, and is an extremely satisfying walk through memory lane. These songs have been brought forward from teenage angst, to sounding much more mature. The band feels reinvigorated playing these songs and the return to their oldies show much promise for the future. If you at any point in your life were touched by "Page Avenue", I would search this out. You will not be disappointed.