“How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?”, a question, an album title, an opening lyric bellowed from the depths of Roy Watson's vocal chords. Newcastle heavy hitters GroundCulture are offering an open door into an auditory experience that aims to shake up your senses and shake down your conscience. The band, formed of the aforementioned Roy on vocals, Lewi Shoulder and Mattie Turner on guitars, George Collings on bass and Josh Murphy behind the kit, have already racked up quite the series of accolades in the few years they have officially existed as a collective, sharing stages with Every Time I Die, Crossfaith, Issues and even 30 Seconds To Mars, alongside festival slots at This Is Tomorrow, Download and 2000 Trees festival.
No biggie then eh? Good thing these dogs pack plenty of bite to their bark, as the new record lunges in with an intense thrash riff, coupled with drums that hit harder than a high velocity freight train courtesy of opening belter 'Life Won't Wait'. “Where's the sense in staying silent?”, a mantra that echoes throughout the threads that weave How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? together, Roy roars before diving headfirst into a more soulful, melodic tone. But they're just getting started, as the intro sample to the albums second single 'REALEYES' drifts in, a sample that the crafty Geordies manage to weave a riff around as if every syllable were a chord, “Don't wan-na wake up”. The track quickly shifts from something that sounds like a metalcore take on The Prodigy into something that sounds like a bloodlusted shark tearing an early Beartooth tune limb from limb, with an infectious chorus to boot, this is easily one of the biggest tracks on the record.
Already GroundCulture are painting themselves a soundscape way beyond the boundaries of any perceptions that may have been made based on their debut release, a self titled EP they began to chart their course with back in 2018. Well they've only gone and got themselves a bigger boat haven't they? Cause third track '18' features the kind of production and riffage that previously only Hybrid Theory era Linkin Park were capable of, backtracked by a thumping heartbeat of a bassline courtesy of George, and Roy treading the line between harsh and clean vocals oh so finely, this track has some HEFT. They double down on the nu-metal vibes with 'Take My Breath Away', glued together this time with KoЯn style bass, and Roy once again flexing his vocal versatility, verses ranging from Matt Bellamy (MUSE) to Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach).
Alright, so we've name dropped some pretty iconic bands already, but coursing through the framework present throughout the record, these elements are all too prominent to be ignored. 'Trauma Can Teach', however, sees the band delve deep into the trials and tribulations that spur them onward; “Thank you, for all the moments, where you've been able to meet complacence with patience. I owe you for all the moments where you've been able to help me grow through reflection.” The song aims to narrate how “our painful experiences hold an immense value and power when faced properly”. This is GroundCulture at its very core: “music for black sheeps and underdogs - created with the purpose of making those going against the grain feel seen, heard, and safe. Every song on How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? is designed to approach a different angle of self-discovery.”
'Unbreakable' stands tall as an inspirational anthem, a running charge at aspiration, as the album begins to transcend from headstrong brutality in it's early half to anthemic beauty, reaching its peak at penultimate track 'Dream Like A Child', featuring guest vocals from Philip Strand (frontman of Swedish genre defiers Normandie). The song chimes in with sleepy synthwaves, before blossoming out into something that would have fit right in on Bring Me The Horizon's 'That's The Spirit', rather than full throttle, this song glides its way forward, as elegant as it is infatuating. Unexpectedly, GroundCulture dare to turn it down a notch further, presenting haunting acoustic ballad '10 10 1974' as its final bow. From start to finish How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? takes you on a journey through the human psyche, all the way in and right the way back out again. For a band to put out a debut album this strong, and cram it full of meaningful intent til it overflows at the seams feels somewhat unprecedented, and almost certainly there isn't a band out there right now doing it how GroundCulture do.
How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? is released May 1st via Hopeless Records.
Pre-order the album here.