Grove Street – ‘The Path To Righteousness’

By Fiachra Johnston

It’s been a long time coming for Grove Street (formerly Grove Street Families). The GTA inspired Southampton crew have danced around the fringes of the scene for years now, but have at last returned to us with a full-length release, moving beyond pastiche into fully fledged metaldom with their debut record, ‘The Path To Righteousness’. While some of its more metal components may not be boundary breaking, its clever twists have provided just enough flare to keep things interesting.

While ‘Hunting Season’ at first provides elements of a very 90’s thrash record (stock jaguar sound effects and all), it slowly opens up throughout. The sudden hardcore rasps from Sully, the punk breakdown to the chorus; there’s more here than meets the eye, and its all flows together surprisingly cleanly. There’s no more proof of this wonderful mixture than in Sully’s harsh, hardcore vocals, which sound as much at home here as they would on a Megadeth or Slayer record. These are what often put the album into second gear, the raspy monologues in tracks like the titular ‘The Path to Righteousness’ evoking both modern hardcore and some old-school British Punk, along with all the tongue-in-cheek witticism that comes with it. ‘Lessons of the Past’ features a cheeky Grandmaster Flash reference and a deluge of boisterous ‘oh’s’ that would make Hacksaw Jim Duggan proud. Tonally, this isn’t a bleak, nihilistic metal record though; at its core it’s as punk as anything, with all the sly smiles and sardonicism that come with the territory. 

While vocally hardcore, instrumental wise ‘The Path To Righteousness’ leans more towards its thrash influences, though guitarists Sandy and Andy Harper do a fine job toeing the line between smash mouth hardcore rhythms and glamorous 90’s riffs, such as ‘Caught Slippin’’. Here, the hardcore influences really shine, the breakneck pace perfectly suiting the runaway guitars and Sully’s frantic vocals. They excel when they stray from the path even further though, like ‘Ulterior Motives’, which has some wonderful whining guitars a la Audioslave. These little moments of surprise are glimpses into Grove Street’s influences, and just how exciting they can be when they explore these styles fully.

Beyond that, at times it can still be a run of the mill metal record, particularly in the second half of the album. The bouncing bass and group chorus of ‘Sick and Tired’ and the chugging guitars of ‘Shift’ add some variance, but it doesn’t separate them from their peers all that much. ‘Born II Lose’ mixes more of those delicious punk notes with a very classic 80’s metal solo that’s so cheesy you can’t help but smile. ‘Cycle of Grief’ interjects the usual rasping screams with some sick wailing vocals, making for a memorable close to the album. The reliance on those classic riffs and trends isn’t much of a hamper to the band, but it would have been great to see even more punk and hardcore influences sprinkled in to push through some of the more homogenous guitars and drums.

The eclectic mix of styles on ‘The Path To Righteousness’ makes it much more than the sum of its parts however, and through this fusion Grove Street turn their debut from a by the numbers metal record to a fun and inventive punk-thrash behemoth. While it would be great to see things taken even further on future albums, for now Grove Street have managed to successfully land a debut that’s well worth a listen.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

 

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