REVIEW: Ground Tracer – Diseased [2014]


Artist: Ground Tracer

Album: Diseased


What do you think of when you hear the word violence? Do you think of military action? Guns blazing, bullets flying—pure, flagrant chaos? Or do you think of man-on-man, bare-knuckle, back alley boxing? Chances are, no matter what you think, you think of two people—probably two men—engaging in the act of bodily harm against one another. Fury, anger, vengeance. While these elements do indeed paint one veritable side of violence, there is another, more passionate and introspective side—the violence of a sickness slowly eating away at the victim’s mind—the kind of violence one man can do only to himself. This violence, this bitter, self-destructive fury is Disease. Michigan-based metalcore newcomers, forming from the ashes of Endeavors and Versus the Ocean bring us the truest of frantic, mental decay in its truest form—Diseased—a collection of tracks which follow the journey of a man through the annals of his history and the battles he fights inside his own head—all with a stunning and immersive musical backdrop that thoroughly captivates the listener and keeps them waist-deep in the wavering, churning waters of Ground Tracer’s bitter, intense psyche.

At first, the strings strain—the mental fabric holding Ground Tracer’s sanity is strained, but not snapped. This is showcased by the initial, tedious twists and turns taken by Diseased, throughout “Atlas” and “Addiction,” well into “Diseased.” These tracks showcase intense, furious and razor-sharp fretwork that cuts deeply into the listener, drawing blood and slicing flesh. And while the razor-wire riffs of “Addiciton” press tightly against the listener’s skin, keeping them bound and restrained, unable to fight, the percussion beats down upon them, hammering each harmonic—each piercing squeal and searing portion of shreddy riffing—deeper and deeper into the listener, bleeding them dry of more than just blood, but slowly beginning to leach into their sanity. By the time the downtuned and dense, pummeling instrumentation of “Disease” beings to embitter and bruise the listener’s mind, those fragile, fraying strings securing the listener’s sanity into place become even more and more precarious until—finally—with the assistance of Ground Tracer’s brilliant, bitter lyricism and raunchy, intense songwriting, they snap, sending the listener’s mental decay into a full-tilt downwards plummet.

While the intensity behind Ground Tracer’s instrumentation is one thing, the lyricism that runs rampant throughout Disease is truly and undeniably masterful. “Disease” and “Lioneyes” combine Villains-like misanthropy with Sworn In-styled darkly poetic themes and intense self-loathing, while “Deadwife” and “Maryann” both tell tales of horrific romance that combine elements of Endeavors and Endwell so surreally it seems impossible. All the while, while each lyrical theme that drives Diseased is wrought with influences from Ground Tracer’s peers (and in some cases, ghosts), it is completely unique, bringing its own flare for the dramatic and misanthropic to the table that is completely and mysteriously Midwestern in nature. While “Lioneyes” has elements of man-on-man malevolence akin to King 810 or Gift Giver, “Deadwife” has lyrical empathy behind it enough to seem loosely related to La Dispute, or the more emotional side of Midwestern hardcore. Every lyrical element that comes together to sharpen the knife that cuts the listener’s mind and body to shreds is perfectly honed and perfectly portioned to create something that is much greater—and more influential—than the sum of its parts.

By the time “Maryann” comes around, the listener is practically a shriveled remnant of the person they once were. Diseasde has worn away at their body just as much as it has deteriorated their mind, taking their once full and fleshy form and draining it—dehydrating it like a grape to a raisin. Ground Tracer batter the listener with pervastive, explosive percussion and cut them into shreds with razor sharp riffs and vocals to match—every element of their harsh, brooding and bitter onslaught is incessant and refuses to give the listener even one moment’s rest. In fact, if it weren’t for the clean vocals and moments of surreal harmonization, there wouldn’t even be a body to show what was left of this listener. Some tracks—“Words” and “Addiction” especially—are capable of taking even the most bitter and brooding elements in Ground Tracer’s arsenal and turning them around, making them soothing and redeeming, providing an almost ethereal flow of aether and atmosphere in between the layers of Diseased’s raunchy and ruthless grime and groove.

Diseased is comprehensive—and like its namesake would suggest, it is not something to be trifled with. Ground Tracer combine elements from the brightest and best bands from the world of heavy music and put their own aggressive—yet atmospheric—twist on it. The result? A sickness with no cure—a foray into unexplored musical territory, and, most importantly, and experience the listener will not soon be rid of.



For Fans Of: Gift Giver, Sworn In, Endeavors, Barrier, Villains

By: Connor Welsh