October 05, 2023

Culprit - Guilty As Charged (1983)

*Reissued on CD for the first time in 2000 by Hellion Records
This pressing contains 12 tracks total 
and remastered audio.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label Number: HE 091000

© 1983-2000 Hellion Records
It doesn't take a heavy metal expert to tell you about Seattle's unusually high number of heavy metal bands during the 1980s, but although names like Queensr├┐che and Metal Church roll easily off the tongue, some other, also very impressive bands such as Culprit have virtually vanished from public memory. The band's lone album, 1983's Guilty as Charged, was an anomaly in the Shrapnel Records catalog for offering technical proficiency without getting bogged down in uncontrolled shredding. Rather, it forged an inventive yet disciplined brand of American heavy metal that was perhaps even more notable for containing meaningful, real-world, and surprisingly embarrassment-free lyrics. In fact, one has to wonder if the then still Dungeons & Dragons-toting Queensr├┐che didn't take note of Culprit's more lucid approach further down the road, since Guilty as Charged feels in many ways like a rough draft of Operation: Mindcrime. All conjecture aside, and even more unusual as compared to their average labelmates' guitar-first philosophy, Culprit songs like "Steel to Blood," "Ambush," and "Same to You" boasted extremely memorable, singalong choruses to go with their disciplined instrumental foundations. And were it not for another one of Shrapnel house producer Mike Varney's typically deficient production efforts, this album (and particularly highlights such as the title track, "I Am," and the awesome "Tears of Repentance") might have had a better shot at achieving mainstream success. As it stands, Guilty as Charged remains a lost gem of American metal from the 1980s, and well worth seeking out for fans of other bands from the period. [Hellion Records' CD reissue of Guilty as Charged couldn't rescue the lousily produced master tapes to better audio-fidelity levels (if anything, it sounds even worse than the original vinyl), but it did add three bonus live cuts recorded at a 1998 reunion concert.]

 tags: culprit, guilty as charged, 1983, flac,

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