Earth Crisis- Neutralize the Threat (2011)

Posted: March 15, 2012 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Anyone who claims to be a fan of the hardcore that came out of the 90’s, or even hardcore in general, likely knows much about Earth Crisis. Since their inception, the band has been dedicated to forwarding their vegan straight edge urgency through their often crushing lyrics and live performances. Controversy has always followed a band like Earth Crisis, being tagged with labels such as “militant” or “zealous”, but I honestly can’t think of another band that has been as dedicated to the vegan & straight edge lifestyles, and not only have accomplished so much for the hardcore scene, but for their war against animal cruelty on a broader scale, as well. The fact of the matter is, Earth Crisis has influenced animal rights activism (for better or worse, depending on where you stand on the subject) and straight edge culture to such an extent that they have been featured on several major news networks, such as FOX (Geraldo interviewing vocalist Karl Buechner in particular in relation to recent straight edge violence.)

I have never been a huge Earth Crisis fan for the majority of my involvement in hardcore. As a band, they had little to no influence on my choice to abstain from drugs and meat. However, I’ve always recognized that they were an important band aesthetically, and (to me) created a more palatable rendition of Vegan Reich’s Hardline lifestyle, incorporating simply the straight edge beliefs accompanied by a vegan diet, without the rest of the more extreme political standings of Hardline (I suggest reading the Vegan Reich interview in Brian Peterson’s Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution In Ethics, Politics, Spirit, And Sound,or talk to the folks at the Catalyst Records forum for further information on Hardline.)

I feel that the reason I’ve never been able to get into Earth Crisis was because I’d always put off catching a live show. I’d listened to the All Out War and Firestorm EPs regularly, but never cared to delve much deeper than that – especially after being completely turned off to the band when I heard Slither, which solidified the band’s gradual transition into incorporating textbook Nu-Metal sounds. Earth Crisis broke up about a year after that record came out, but they eventually reunited in 2007. It would be soon after a string of reunion shows that the band decided to get back together for good and put out a new record, To the Death, in 2009 after signing to Century Media.

It was around this time that I actually got the chance to see Earth Crisis at Black ‘N Blue Bowl in 2009, after I had put off seeing them for years; I was not disappointed in the least. They went on around midnight (they headlined the show) and started their set with the intro to “Names Carved Into Granite” after Karl gave a speech in favor of a Nazi war criminal being brought to justice after all of those years. The set was intense, and I suddenly realized that these guys certainly live up to their hype, and deserved at least some kind of recognition for all of the hard work they’ve put in as a band, as individuals, and as activists.

Fast-forwarding to 2011, Earth Crisis released their second full-length as a reunited band, entitled Neutralize the Threat. I am a fan of what their previous record, To the Death, encompassed, seemingly returning to a sound that can only be described as a perfect mash-up of Destroy the Machines and Breed the Killers, only with better recording and production tools available. Regrettably, I had actually put off listening to Neutralize the Threat solely based on the eyebrow-raising name and the initial promo tracks I heard, which had raised suspicion that they had returned to the Nu-Metal sound that I feel ultimately destroyed them. I also heard some of these songs live on their recent tour with Otep in late 2011, which was a strange tour for them to be opening for, and a strange show to attend in general, I assure you. I am pleased to report, however, that all of this was not fair to judge Earth Crisis by; if you liked their sound between Gomorrah’s Season Ends and Breed the Killers, you might find a place for this record in your collection, even if the album title itself comes off as a bit corny.

The album starts off with “Raise”, the shortest song on the record, clocking in at only 1:30, with riffs that are not unlike those on Breed the Killers, if not (slightly) more Nu-Metal in their approach – it’s tolerable. As the record progresses, a lot of the tracks remind me something I would have heard on Merauder’s Master Killer record. It has that same kind of more-metallic-yet-still-hardcore vibe. There are more instrumental intricacies on here as far as solos, though they don’t saturate the entire record, and are actually rather sparse.

If you’re expecting a fast-paced record, you won’t find it here. The record is more in-tune with a more metallic and slow-to-mid tempo school of hardcore rather than a fast one, but this has always been typical of Earth Crisis, so it’s not anything that seems out of place for them. Expect lots of crunchy breakdowns complemented by drums that seem to beat the pulp out of everything – it’s classic Earth Crisis with a slightly Nu-Metal tinge to it, but thankfully not as prominent as it was on Slither. Take it with a grain of salt and you may actually begin to enjoy this record.

Rating: In terms of musicianship, if you’re looking for a record to captivate you, I don’t recommend Neutralize the Threat. If you’re familiar with a lot of Earth Crisis’ material from the 90’s, this record won’t come as a surprise. If anything, I would say that this album is appropriate, given their musical history, and might make a fine addition to your Earth Crisis collection. If you’re just getting into this band, this may not appeal to you at all, and I would suggest either checking out both of the EPs and Gomorrah’s Season Ends first. However, from an aesthetic perspective, it is nothing short of incredible how a group of vegan straight edge folk (mind you, the current line-up is still generally composed of the same members since the early 90’s) are still forwarding their passion on so many fronts without ever compromising. It takes an incredible amount of integrity to say this consistent, so is this record revolutionary? Not exactly. This is a formula that has been endlessly repeated throughout their existence, but the refuse-to-quit attitude and perseverance of the band certainly is impressive. With some fine-tuning, more interesting musicianship, and thinking outside of the box, this band could be something even more incredible. Will they do it? We’ll be waiting patiently, Earth Crisis. 3.5/5




– Anthony John Czerwinski

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