Indianapolis-based Christian hardcore group Gwen Stacy has made great strides in the industry. After some self-released demos, they released their first full-length album, The Life I Know, with Ferret Records. Now, they're releasing their latest creation, A Dialogue, through Solid State records, a division of major music group EMI.
This album follows basic trends in modern metalcore, combining a post-Hatebreed hardcore sensibility with metal-esque guitar, melodic interludes and the standard mix of angst-ridden singing and throaty screaming. The band's chugging rhythms mesh with soloed scales, ultimately highlighting the vocals above all else. So while Gwen Stacy isn't doing anything revolutionary within their genre, they are very good at what they do.
The first track, appropriately titled "The First Words," opens with the song's oft-repeated anthem, "don't let them make you think your doubt is disbelief," establishing the subtle faith-based theme that runs throughout their albums. Recently-inducted lead vocalist Geoff Jenkins delivers mid-level screams, while bassist and founding member Brent Schindler sings cleaner, more intelligible vocals with the appropriate amount of emotion for this subgenre of metalcore. The title track ends up being a genuine sing-along - in a move that's calculated to work up a crowd, all instruments but a turned-down guitar back off to allow Schindler a vocal solo in the middle of the song.
The opening measures of "Creation and how i see it" show off guitarist Patrick Meadows' ability to harmonize with himself. In a genre known for multiple, often-unnecessary guitars, Meadows stands out as the single strummer for Gwen Stacy. The album format allows him to do more than would be possible live, so he solos on the song's main riff and alternates to the obligatory noisy chords and staccato chugs when necessary.
"Braveheart" is the album's angriest track, with a fast opening tempo, unharmonious guitar and the highest ratio of screaming to singing of all the songs. Like "Creation and how i see it," it has an inexplicable synth break in the middle that provides an interesting change of pace, if nothing else.
Drummer T.J. Sego is the only other founding member still with the band, and it's clear that he knows his stuff. Every song is marked by mathematically precise hits that are the driving force behind the band's sound, most notably on "A Middle Ground" and "Profit Motive."