Ahh; ABH had been teasing us for months with pictures of the Subculture palette on social media and I instantly fell in love with the shade selection, so I jumped on it upon it's release. However I then saw the shit-storm on YouTube with people way more skilled in makeup saying how horrible it was to work with, so I became almost scared to use it.
But I needed to try it to find out if it was something that I'd need to hurry up and return because I just wasn't able to make it work. Well, I've made up my mind, so get the big drumroll ready...I love a more grungy- undone look, so I'm not a big shadow blender which is a major deciding factor in how Subculture is going to work for you - to get the fantastic pigmentation that these shadows have means that the shadows are very softly pressed, so firmer application and overworking the shadows will just muddy the shades into a patchy mess.
Now my warning is out of the way, lets get to the good stuff. In Subculture you get Electric [lime-gold] and Cube [pink pearl] which are both duo chromes, Adorn [bronze] is a metallic, and the following shades are all ultra-mattes; Roxy [muted coral], Fudge [warm bronze], New Wave [citron orange], Untamed [tarnished green], Edge [gold mustard], Rowdy [blackened purple], Axis [blue-green], Mercury [slate grey], All Star [vintage wine], Destiny [sage green] and Dawn [sand]. You also get a double ended shade and blending brush, which is actually a good quality, so is something I use.
Any let downs? The duo chrome shades Cube and Electric aren't as soft and apply on the sheer side, but almost every duo chrome shadow I've tried is, so I guess that's not a real negative for me as the shadow seems to be designed as shadow toppers. Dampening the dense shader end of the supplied brush for application of these two shades, gives a more intense look, compared to applying the shades dry.
So there we go; I mostly like my Subculture palette and will rebuy it when I need to. I think it's just a question of preferred application technique with the very soft shadow, rather then good batch versus bad patch. I think that if you are used to using softer shadows and aren't a big shadow blender, then this palette will work for you. If you prefer to use a firmer hand for shadow application and love your blending, then you might want to sit this one out.
Sorry to be blunt; I think it's just using common sense to be light-handed when using soft shadows and it's not doing loads of extra steps with application to make it work, so I don't get loads of peoples complaints. I don't get why Norvina [ABH CEO] got hate for saying swirling a brush over and over in a pan isn't a good idea in response to someones video who had done exactly that - to my eyes/ears she was just being straightforward, not hateful or 'throwing shade'. Nor did I find the ABH tutorial then put out rude or condescending - I think people are being too sensitive. Being light-handed with soft shadows is just plain common sense - if you're light-handed, and don't overwork the pigments, it works well. I do suspect that a lot of the reviews is an almost pack mentality, and the 'scandal' videos popping up all over YouTube are people jumping on the witch-hunt train for views.
ABH have said that future batches of Subculture will be pressed more firmly, so some people might prefer to wait before buying it.
Here's a fantastic review; Stephanie Nicole works in cosmetic manufacturing, so hearing her explain product formulas was very informed and interesting.