on October 21, 2009
I have been waiting for this release for quite a long time. The previous album, The Life I Know, was quite an achievement especially for a freshmen release. It rose the bar quite high for the band and I had hoped that Gwen Stacy would be able to surpass it. Unfortunately, the sophomore album could not live up to the standards of The Life I Know. But what could possibly make such a great band go astray? While many people might point the blame at the new vocalist, Geoff, this for me was not the case. Throughout the album, he brought back the aggressive growls that Cole was so good at and made it better. In fact, I would interested to hear how he would growl through The Life I Know. The album would probably sound so much better. What killed the album for me was the melody sung by Brent.
In the previous album, the way Brent sang made the album excellent. Since I wasn't the greatest fan of Cole, the sound of Gwen Stacy for me was the singing talents of Brent. Even though his singing was rare, whenever he sang, the song got ten times better. For example, due to his vocalist expertise, songs like If We Live Right, We Can't Die Wrong, The Fear in your Eyes and Gone Fishing, See You in a Year really stood out because of his talent. However, in the sophomore release, his voice does exactly the opposite.
Now, I know that Gwen Stacy has always gone for an experimental sound and I really appreciate that. In the freshmen release, Gwen Stacy experimented with their guitars to make odd break downs and syncopated rhythms not seen in any other band. It made the band different. However, this time around, the band seemed to focus this experiment with the vocals. Brent's singing style has definitely changed and just seems out of place in almost every song. I would rather have Geoff growl throughout the entire album than have Brent ruin songs that had great potential. Usually when I listen to Gwen Stacy or any other band, I look forward to the clean vocals even if they may be scarce. It makes some diversity. But in this case, the vocals just tend to ruin the entire the greatest that Geoff creates. After listening to the album a few times I have tried to put my finger on what exactly Brent does that is so strange. And all I can say is that the melody is strange and doesn't fit with the chords that are being played. You will have to find out for yourself.
In the third song, A Dialogue, I thought that everything would be okay. Brent goes for a more poppy sound, experimenting with what most singers in band sing like. While sounding strange for Gwen Stacy, it was a change, which I always look on positively. While it did seem out of place, it worked. However, once the prelude ends, he goes back to singing off. The only song which he sings in that sounds good is "Words of the New Prophet." To me, it gives me the feel of "If We Live Right, We Can't Die Wrong." I could be wrong. But the clean vocals and the growls go well together. It is the old sound of Gwen Stacy coming back. But after that song, the clean vocals go down hill with the except of Braveheart. While the vocals are nothing special, they don't have that annoying knack of not going with anything being played. But before "Words of the New Prophet" and after, the singing is just awful. And unfortunately, there are a lot of clean vocals. It is almost an irony. In the last album, I would have killed for there to be more clean vocals. But now, since we have it, I want them to just go away.
I am sure that the album will grow on me over time (I hope), but I am really disappointed to what they have become. Gwen Stacy still has the aggressive side, if not more so because of Geoff. They did a great job in choosing a new front man. There is still that experimental syncopated style and strange guitar rhythms that make Gwen Stacy who they are.
And no, there is no Gone Fishing, See You in a Year part II. I know, it sucks. All in all, the album could have been SOOOO much better. Brent's vocals just ruined it for me, ruining song after song which Geoff does so well to create. Now, I don't want this to hinder people from buying the album, I just want everyone to realize that there has been a change and a noticeable one that might not be positive for a few people. Try listening to their three songs on their myspace: the first three songs from the album. You will see what I mean.
Songs that did stand out to me were: Profit Motive (minus the few melodies sung by Brent), Creation and How I See it, Words of the New Prophet and Devil Devil (minus the melodies sung by Brent). Again, Most of the songs have only been heard three to four times. I hope that I will end up liking more of the album.
And to Gwen Stacy, I will still be a loyal fan. I just hope the next release will be better than the freshmen and ten times better than your sophomore.
on October 22, 2009
It seems like all of the bands Solid State Records has signed in the past five years have great musicianship. A Dialogue by Gwen Stacy proves this trend to be true. They are the newest band on Solid State, and have constructed a very well album. From the opening track to the end the listener will be bouncing to the beat. Gwen Stacy has moved more to the melodic-core side compare to their last album (The Life I Know), but this does not take away from their ability to play very well. There are major breakdowns, technical riffs, and driving drums that will have you head banging in your car. If you enjoy Underoath, Beloved, August Burns Red, or The Ascendicate this is a must have.
on February 6, 2010
while Gwen Stacy is a metalcore band, they are also blazing a path beside the metalcore trail. there are hints that it is also playing traditional metal too. the songs are loaded with samples as well. I cannot place them, but they add an interest to the song structure. they are from Indianapolis, just like labelmates Haste The Day. Gwen Stacy sounds like a jam session between Kutless and Killswitch Engage. there is a bit of melody in the chops, but it doesn't sound poppy, just like labelmates Inhale Exhale. these guys must be Spider-Man fans as well, naming the band after Peter Parker's lab partner. if you like Gwen Stacy, I also recommend the Ascendicate, Living Sacrifice, Demon Hunter, Inhale Exhale, Zao, Haste The Day, Norma Jean, and a ton of other Christian bands. also, please note that the samples were on the first two songs, because I have not heard them on any of the others. these guys have a bright future on Solid State.
on October 12, 2013
Gwen Stacy are a band that definitely fly under the radar, in the long shadows created by bands like Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, and Poison The Well. In fact, it would be perfectly appropriate to call them just another Johnny-come-lately to an already completely glutted melodic metalcore scene. And they are not one that is intelligent enough to infuse their songs with crafty melodies -- they, like so many other generic groups, must be either heavy or melodic, but not both. (Unlike greats such as Chimaira and Unearth, G.S. do not stagger their songs with just enough tunefulness to be memorable.)
And furthermore, the band's instrumental abilities are clearly lacking at least somewhat, with their riffs being mostly simplistic and repetitive, and their breakdowns feeling fairly darn rote and predictable. Plus, there are absolutely no blast beats or guitar solos of any kind on 2009's "Dialogue." Couple this fact with the already-established blatant lack of originality probably explain why they more metalcore lovers have not even ever heard of Gwen Stacy.
But lest this review come across as being too harsh, let me point out that there are some memorable tracks to be had, here, and there are even more moments that vibrantly brandish some honest-to-goodness potential. The thunderous "The First Words," with its bruising, chugga-chugga riffs, breakdowns, and powerful vocals (which trade off between visceral screaming and emotive crooning), is one; and the thrashy "Profit Motive" is another. Elsewhere, there are a few speedy bruisers, with "Creation And How I See It" being one example, as it is a moving, hardcore-inflected metal anthem that ultimately comes across sounding like a Hatebreed outtake (thanks mostly to its cool, Biohazard-style shout-worthy refrain). And "Words Of The New Prophet" then, continues in this vein, as it also puts clean vocals on the back burner in favor of abrasive-as-sandpaper guitars, serrated rhythms, and raging metalcore vocals.
Other decent cuts include "Addictionary" and "The Making Of," two breakdown-happy moshers; "Braveheart," which slows to a quiet breakdown in order to open up for some noteworthy bass soloing; and the really deft drum fills (swift double bass thudding included) that occupy most of "A Middle Ground." And, of course, no review would be complete without mentioning "The Sound Of Letting Go." It might not be the album's epic highpoint, but it is worth noting just because it is so different from the rest -- it does, after all, begin as an obligatorily melodic ballad with acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment.
At the end of the day, "Dialogue" boils down to being a pretty run-of-the-mill melodic metalcore record, and one that does little to distinguish itself. But even if it is the type of album that will appeal to only a select group of people (listeners who simply cannot get enough of this whole post-Killswitch Engage rave), it is decent through and through. Its tight execution, convincing delivery, adequate musicianship, and crisp and thunderous production job makes it certainly very listenable. My first instinct was to give it a 2.5 star rating; but I think it is a hair better than that.