Gwen Stacy - The Life I Know (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Gwen Stacy

The Life I Know (2008)


Stan Lee's lengthy run of Amazing Spider-Man, even when Peter Parker got into sticky situations, was marked by a certain degree of campy fun. Gerry Conway had just started writing for the title when he decided to kill off the character of Gwen Stacy, which at the time was seen as quite a shocking move to readers. I find it quite interesting that a metalcore band would name themselves after such a character seeing that metalcore is often marked by decidedly sexist sentiments and the character of Gwen Stacy is often seen as starting a trend where harsh violence against women became a device used to further plot. The key difference between the band and their namesake is that where the comic book character may have laid some new ground, the band seems to be recycling the same tired genre staples aside from a few moments.

As with a number of bands under a similar persuasion, vocal duties are split between growling and cleanly sung. In doing so, one of the band's main weaknesses is brought into focus. The effortless confidence required for a convincing guttural growl just isn't there and when put up against the melodic backup vocals (which are actually pulled off quite well), that fact is further emphasized.

On songs like "The Path to Certainty," Gwen Stacy shows some real ability with an undeniably catchy chorus and strong dynamics that never wallow too long in a breakdown or letting the main riff grow too stale. Moments like this end up being few and far between, where aside from occasionally memorable riffs ("If We Live Right, We Can't Die Wrong") and the slight electronic flourishes in "Sleeping in the Train Yard," the album gets rather monotonous. Conversely, one consistently solid aspect of the album is the drumming, which has a considerable amount of variety but whose recording could have been given more of a punch.

The members of Gwen Stacy belong to a Jewish sect you may have heard of called Christianity. Thusly, the lyrical content of the album tends to gravitate toward upliftment via that particular form of preaching. So if that doesn't feature in your particular form of being brootal or croosh or whatever the kids are into these days you might want to find another soundtrack.

Ultimately, while certainly not the worst the genre has to offer, the most interesting thing about The Life I Know is the band's name who made it.