Gwen Stacy's first full-length album comes across as weak, save for a few standouts. As Gwen Stacy's first step into the major hardcore scene, there was still many improvements to be made. However, a few songs set this album apart. Tracks such as "If We Live Right, We Can't Die Wrong," "The Fear In Your Eyes," and "Gone Fishing. See You In A Year" keep this album from being a monotone drop in the bucket to the hardcore scene.
Lyrically, The Life I Know belts out a constant theme of redemption through Christ. Vocalist Cole Wallace's lyrical work is intriguing for those who can get past his vocal style, in which every scream sounds exactly like the last. Wallace's mid-level pitch doesn't change the least bit throughout the entire album.
After the first three tracks, sloppy, aimless guitar riffs may afflict listeners with an excruciating headache. The first remedy comes with the more melodic riffs of "If We Live Right, We Can't Die Wrong," being that this track is the first in which the lead guitarist seems to have actually put some thought into what he was playing. These hopes are let down momentarily as "What Will Happen If I Hit Enter" passes by, but redemption follows closely with "The Fear In Your Eyes." A highlight of the album, Gwen Stacy shot a music video for this song soon after the release of the album. "The Fear In Your Eyes" features a melodic chorus of clean vocals, backed by screams, genius guitar riffs, and aggressive vocals/lyrics. This song finally gives an explanation for Gwen Stacy's high seat in the hardcore scene. The next few songs pass by without much to talk about. More irritatingly sloppy songwriting is displayed. Some creativity is finally heard with "Sleeping in the Train Yard," as Gwen Stacy momentarily changes pace with a slow instrumental backed by a story about a man afflicted by demons. The second highlight of The Life I Know lands at track ten, entitled "Gone Fishing. See You In a Year." Starting out with chugging power chords, this song creates a deep, heavy feel. It finally slows down into an almost peaceful display of clean vocals and smooth guitar riffs, perhaps the only tranquil moment of the album. This smooth, steady feel creates the perfect build-up for re-entry into the intensity of the song, as the epic lines ring out, "And in all of this, all I wanted was peace." The final two songs lower the bar once again to a minimum, though it must be said that the finale has an uplifting chorus, with a creative duel of screams and clean vocals.
Overall, The Life I Know leaves listeners feeling a bit dizzy. Sloppy guitar riffs thrown into our ears are most often the downfall of songs that just don't make the cut. However, the redeeming tracks still ring out that Gwen Stacy has the ability to be something great if they can improve on what they do well. The Life I Know shows Gwen Stacy's potential, but they're definitely not there yet.
Review date: 7/8/10, written by Justin Eyster for Jesusfreakhideout.com