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Bitter End - "Guilty As Charged" (CD)

Bitter End - "Guilty As Charged" CD cover image

"Guilty As Charged" track listing:

1. Corrupted Souls (1:27)
2. Guilty As Charged (2:39)
3. The Hand That Feeds (3:02)
4. Means To An End (3:06)
5. Unjust (4:33)
6. Sueños Muertos (3:06)
7. Inborn (3:20)
8. Broken (4:31)
9. Victims (3:17)
10. Immortalized (4:24)

Reviewed by on August 11, 2010

"Hardcore fans that like the heavier side of the genre and don’t mind a little progression from time to time will find 'Guilty As Charged' to be a highly-enjoyable, if somewhat brief, listen."

There is nothing worse in this world than a band releasing a predictable album. Think about all those albums that get to the halfway point and have explored every musical avenue that the band wants to travel on, usually leaving a whole lot of groan-inducing filler to trudge through. Bitter End’s sophomore album “Guilty As Charged” seems to situate itself in this category in the early goings. The metallic hardcore sound the band performs is done with a workman-like mentality, but things go off in an unexpected melodic direction during the second half. This sudden openness to songwriting that was tightly-contained in the first half rises “Guilty As Charged” above the muck.

The first four songs come and go with little recourse. The band has the hardcore attitude and riffs, with the aggression and intensity common in metal. The title track breaks down into a Slayer-inspired lead section, while the drums take center stage with various fills on “Means To An End.” All throughout these tracks, the band pushes forward with no room for halting the momentum. They are well-performed, but like that drunk friend that randomly sprouts out one-liners, there isn’t much that will stick with the listener for a long period of time.

The tide begins to shift with “Unjust.” The song is lengthy compared to the previous ones and has a thrashy pace. An acoustic interlude near the end is a small hint of what is contained in the instrumental “Sueños Muertos.” The track continues with the acoustic work and heavy percussion that was a brief part of “Unjust.” “Sueños Muertos” is the only oddity on “Guilty As Charged,” though that is far from a negative attribute. Bitter End’s willingness to show something different beyond the usual is a sign of longevity for any band. This bout of experimentation continues on the rest of the album, with “Broken” being the highlight of the album. A sludge-sounding intro and haunting clean melody layered underneath heavy guitar work ends the track on an epic note.

The band does return to their metallic hardcore sound on “Inborn” and “Victims,” but the other tracks during the latter portion of the album overshadow these solid numbers. With much of the album, the musicianship is nothing to write home about. Each member does an adequate job playing what is largely simplistic music. A few lead breaks pop in, but the guitars seem to be focused on sharp-as-nails riffs, a task they pull off with expertise. The ranting style of vocalist Daniel Rosen takes a while to get used to. It’s very similar to Mike Muir in tone and delivery, though Rosen does add his own touch to avoid any accusations of copycatting.

Deathwish Inc. has been putting out a lot of great albums within the past year or two and they can add “Guilty As Charged” to that list. Just as Bitter End seems to be treading down a predictable path, they throw a wrench in that plan with an emphasis on acoustic work and melodic passages. These are incorporated into the aggressive material with ease, as the two distinct moods gel together with finesse. Hardcore fans that like the heavier side of the genre and don’t mind a little progression from time to time will find “Guilty As Charged” to be a highly-enjoyable, if somewhat brief, listen.

Highs: Metallic hardcore with a melodic touch, great acoustic instrumental break with “Sueños Muertos,” fantastic second half

Lows: Longer tracks on second half overshadow the fast-paced numbers, Mike Muir-ish vocals take a little getting used to.

Bottom line: Bitter End puts together a hardcore album with the right edge of metal and melody to show progression on their sophomore album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)