Review: “How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?” By GroundCulture

Considering themselves to be five segments of the same vision, one culture cursed by a disconnect inside the fabric of their conscious mind, with their backs against the wall, they seek to inspire change through connection. That’s the mission statement of GroundCulture, a five piece Melodic Hardcore act from Newcastle upon Tyne who love to throw in Metalcore elements into their music and are signed to a major label in Hopeless Records. They put a line in the sand and dared you to cross it with their 2018 self titled debut and now it’s time for round two inĀ “How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?”

A blisteringly paced opening to the record comes in the form of “Life Won’t Wait“, part frenetic, with some Mathcore bass lines from George Collings and part Melodic, the cut has enough sing-a-long ability to be a mid album track, while kicking up enough ruckus to turn heads. “REALEYES” has a bizarre sample loop but is powerful enough not overcome it with a right hook of riffs, with Lewi Shoulder and Mattie Turner taking leaves out of the playbook of Continents and Everytime I Die, the difference being a love for a catchy sing-a-long chorus part. Fortunately they don’t loose any of their energy doing it. “18” has something of a Nu-Metal undercurrent to the music thanks to some scratch work and some stomp moments, the gear changing moving into the same territory as “So What?” by While She Sleeps or Shvpes esq sounds, which is a surprise given the start of the album even if it does flow well and have that angsty punch. “Take My Breath Away” isn’t a Berlin cover, instead owing a lot to “Another Worldly Device” by Prong for its main riff while capturing a 90s Hardcore bass line into its fold. Vocalist Roy Watson experiments with a rap verse that busts into a rap scream and what we’re left with is a trio of back to back experiments that don’t match the opening cut for bite but do have plenty of interest going on in them.

The experimentation ends with “Trauma Can Teach“, which returns to the style of “Life Won’t Wait” with a blistering gallop and a bright lead flurrish that counter punches the aggression of the verse with the melody of the chorus while still keeping it hardcore. Packing the finest riffs “Blue Minds” makes for a real stand out cut from the record, each melodic part stomped out like a cigarette by some choppy guitars and a biting vocal, arguably Watson’s finest on the album. The pace and energy of the track, which just keeps on going like the Duracell Bunny is what makes it. Programming brings in “Unbreakable” which loiters with Metalcore intent with riffs that leap of the page around some buried break beats and at points it hard to tell if a drum machine is being used or if sticksman Josh Murphy is just able to produce an unbelievably metronomic performance. The track is highly polished, should feel a bit freer live than it does on the album.

Watson’s unclean vocal style isn’t too far away from Sam Carter of Architects and on tracks like “Free Fall“, you could easily mistake the two if you didn’t know any better. There is an power to the performance which tells you that Watson lives and breathes every single word without having to try to convince. “Dream Like A Child” sees GroundCulture joined by Philip Strand and together they create a sing-a-long rock song with some heavier moments that would work well acoustically, which leads us into the acoustic “1974“. Watson strains to impress with a song that could be on a radio during a summer’s afternoon and if there were not so many experiments on the album, it probably wouldn’t fit. As an album, “How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?” is one that asks a lot of questions without necessarily having all the answers. Half a Melodic Hardcore record and half some experimentation that could land the band a hit single or see them shift into any one of those sounds going forward [6/10]

Track listing

  1. Life Won’t Wait
  3. 18
  4. Take My Breath Away
  5. Trauma Can Teach
  6. Blue Minds
  7. Unbreakable
  8. Free Fall
  9. Dream Like A Child (ft. Philip Strand)
  10. 1974

How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?” By GroundCulture is out now via Hopeless Records

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