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Album Review: TBA

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Album Review: Gwen Stacy - The Life I Know

Gwen Stacey teamed up with producers Paul Leavitt (The Bled, From Autumn To Ashes) and Brian McTiernan (Senses Fail, Thrice) to record this, their debut album, in autumn last year. Talking on the album recently the band are certainly of the opinion that it’s been a valuable experience. ‘I think the biggest thing I’ll take away from this recording experience is the fact that an outside opinion is not always a bad one’, laughs bassist Brent Schindler. ‘I think the songs are better because of it. Paul and Brian are definitely trying to bring the best out in us’. ‘I have learned that we really work best creatively as a unit rather than individually’, states drummer TJ Sego. ‘A lot of our lyrics are about faith, how we struggle through life, and other things people can relate to’, admits vocalist Cole Wallace. Guitarist Patrick Meadows continues with ‘The newer stuff is more mature than our earlier material. We’ve all grown stronger at what we do’.

Well, the album certainly kicks off hard with Wallace’s screamo vocal dominating and the well-orchestrated sections of aggressive drum and guitar bursting in and out of the silence. In the longer sections the drums thud repeatedly over a tearing, caustic and rhythmic undercurrent of industrial guitars nagging at the edges of each track. It’s abrasive and mentally challenging stuff with the constant change of pace managing to both surprise and unsettle all at once. There’s an occasional overlapping lighter backing vocal that highlights how bitter-edged the music is. It’s a car crash of early Biffy Clyro and Funeral For A Friend.

‘If We Live Right, We Can’t Die Wrong’ has a melodic opening, a catchy riff, and scorching vocals that tear at the insides of the machine. As the awesome momentum builds, Wallace warns ‘Don’t look for me to back down’ and you don’t doubt the feeling behind it. ‘Playing God Is Playing For Keeps’ has discordant and vitriolic guitar parts with short thrashing bursts of double-kick. At just under three minutes it’s a brief glimpse of the genius they are capable of. The seven-minute sensation, ‘Sleeping In The Train Yard’, proves it’s no fluke. Carefully introducing drum machine with a neatly coarse, sketched-in guitar riff creates a far clearer and more accessible sound. The bass soon pops up to jab out a thick layer for the drums to move into supplementing the clicks, beeps and whistles. Cue the build to the epic vocal roaring ‘Welcome to the other side of the tracks’ - a place sure worth visiting.

The band has a bright future but overall this particular album lacks variety. It does end up overcoming its inadequacies with some damn clever, snappy and cutting lyrics and, in ‘Ill Splatter You Like Jackson Pollock’, Gwen Stacy have one of the greatest song titles ever.

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