Culprit has emerged as one of the rising young stars in the Los Angeles melodic hardcore scene, with their unique mix of strong, impassioned vocals and spacey, energetic instrumentals. Many of the songs on the Analogue EP feature extremely memorable choruses and instrumentals separating them from the rest of the pack.
The band’s new EP begins with “Siren,” and the space-rock delayed guitar riffs, provided by the team of lead guitarist/backing vocalist Mayauel Garavito and lead vocalist/guitarist Travis Powell, whose voice bares similarity to that of Ryan Hunter from North Korea and ex-Envy on the Coast. The rhythm section drives the song, comprised of the thumping bass line provided by Zach Blumenfeld and dance-provoking drum beat from Jason Michalski. The “woah” sing-along in the chorus isn’t something that is terribly unique, like the rest of the band’s song-structures, but it works for them and proves to be catchy. As well as any band that uses a plethora of effects, the production is a key aspect of the album and Erik Ron (Panic! At the Disco, Foxy Shazam, Four Year Strong) handles the task admirably, giving the album a glossy sound without compromising the band’s talent.
“Strangers” begins with a bouncy bass line from Blumenfeld and a muted guitar line from Garavito that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Angels & Airwaves record. Powell also showcases his extremely talented voice, using his falsetto sparingly and effortlessly. The band’s sound is extremely good, as it takes the talented, space-rock instrumentals but ditches the indulgence typically associated with that style and mixes it with melodic, catchy vocals, giving them a technical and catchy sound. The band has a knack for writing huge choruses with gigantic hooks that will surely get fans excited at shows. The track ends with a heavy hitting instrumental passage, highlighted by the drum work of Michalski.
Guitar and bass riffs start off “Decimals & Fractions,” recalling the sound of the recently deceased As Tall As Lions, with Culprit perhaps inheriting the void that has been left since ATAL disbanded. Powell’s voice even bears some similarity to ATAL’s singer Dan Nigro. Every time the band launches into the instrumental breakdown of the song, which occurs about ¾ of the way through “Decimals & Fractions,” they benefit from knowing when to reel themselves in, showing off their skills long enough to amaze listeners but not too long to the point of boredom. With the band building their fan base, live shows will prove to be extremely important for spreading the word. If their live show contains half the energy heard on the record, they will have no problem with the task.
“Redeemer” begins differently than most of the previous tracks on the record, with an intro featuring only singing, in an almost choir-like fashion. If this album had one star, it would be Powell, whose voice can easily stand among the likes of Nigro, Hunter and the vocalists of the never-to-be-forgotten The Receiving End of Sirens. He has not only an extremely gifted voice, but also the knowledge of when to reel it in and mesh with the band, as well as go full force and belt out the high notes. “Redeemer” is my personal favorite track from the album and recommended for anyone who likes any of the previously mentioned bands. If word spreads about this band, which they definitely deserve, it isn’t hard to imagine them as a headlining band, as their catchiness and aptitude is tough to ignore.
The EP ends with “Curves,” which is one of the slower-paced songs on the album, with Powell utilizing his falsetto nearly exclusively and tenderly in the first verse. The drums from Michalski also keep the listener’s attention, refusing to ever release it. The chorus is just a gigantic as the other tracks on the album, only to be elevated even higher by the tremolo-picked riff from Garavito at its conclusion. The song retains its energy until the end of the song, when the album ends with one of its few restrained moments.
With Culprit’s young age and building fan base, the band is sure to be an up-and-comer that listeners will start to hear about more and more. With Analogue EP’s release just a week away, the band should be touring in the summer. If they come to your local venue, do yourself a favor and check them out. They are definitely unique amidst the growing number of copy-cats currently overpopulating the scene.