June 9th, 2010
Release Date: April 20th, 2009
Label: Century Media
After a six year absence Earth Crisis announced their reunion in 2007, and ‘To The Death’ is the first full length we’ve heard since their questionable covers album that closed out what was then presumed to be their musical career. A straight-edge hardcore band, always passionate about many social issues, adding prominent place for animal rights issues amongst the hardcore scene, will the six year gap have added perspective and clarity to their music or will they have lost their place in a scene full of bands with outspoken opinions in a fast-moving socio-political world?
Musically speaking Earth Crisis has hit their bull’s eye. The guitar work is solid and mixed well with the frantic drum work, and what we get is a slick slice of metalcore which never feels overproduced. Vocally they never stray from harsh style; perhaps a response to a number of fans who complained about the overindulgence in clean vocals on 2000’s ‘Slither’ or just an attempt to reset their own pace reminiscent of their earlier days by just doing things straight up hardcore. Whatever the reason is it works; for the most part. The screams are strong and the statements being made in songs like ‘So Other’s Live’ work in a proclamation like manner but over the course of an entire album the lack of variety starts to grain and some of the straining can irritate. However, the solid guitar soundtracking helps this minor complain along nicely. The band have concocted an unstoppable siege of loud, loud metal music and there are plenty of breakdowns, a refreshing amount of solos (refreshing in them being kept to the minimum and to where it benefits the actual song) and at half an hour, they keep a breakneck pace that keeps the listener’s attention. And while it would be easy to take us through 10 straight-forward metal songs discussing socio-econo-political issues, the band don’t fail on intensity with the combination of breakdowns and doubled up screams in ‘Cities Fall’ meaning we get a song befitting its epic title. There is plenty of momentum developing build-up work, particularly in natural breather instrumental break ‘Plague Bearers’ that prepares us for the even angrier second half, where the band slow things down a little but continue to pummel you incessantly and make their point, with the titular finale being appropriately brutal and strong stately with the band shouting “vegan, to the death” to close us out. Lyrically and thematically the theme of non-conformity is there from the start; what else would you expect with an opener entitled ‘Against The Current’? And to answer my own earlier question, yes, the band seemed to have kept in touch with the world working its way around them. There are various political attacks on the likes of American terrorism policy in ‘Security Threat #1’ and societal chaos in ‘Control Through Fear’. The thing is, theyâ€™re not saying anything particularly new or interesting, but this isn’t necessarily the band’s fault. The way governments both sides of the Atlantic handle various dangerous issues means it is very easy to have a negative opinion on our fair rulers, and the media oversaturation globally means there aren’t many opinions left that haven’t already been expressed by a disgruntled citizen. You can’t fault the band for effort though.
So while the music is brutal enough to get a feel of the malice the band feels toward many areas of society and the government and itâ€™s own revisionist history, and the topics on hand are of social conscience as much as they ever were, you can’t help that feel after so long of this genre being prevalent in alternative music that the band play this one a bit too safe. ‘To The Death’ is by no means weak but it ticks the boxes of the genreâ€™s conventions, a feel that I’m sure the band would like to pervade if their music is to match their message. All the same, the ‘fuck the world’ attitude is still there, and I can ponder exactly where Earth Crisis‘ place in the scene and the genre’s world view is, but at the end of the day the material on this record would start a pretty big pit – and that’s as much as a lot of fans of this band and genre would ask for.
Written by Paul Smith