Like all the great hardcore bands of their generation, Earth Crisis had a sound that clearly distinguished them from their peers. Bands like Vision of Disorder and Marauder had their own unique qualities that made them easy to pick out. In much the same way, Earth Crisis, with their emphasis on heavy riffs and socially-aware lyrics, proved to be one of the most influential hardcore bands of all time. But on their latest album, Salvation of Innocents, they end up sounding more like an amalgamation of the bands they influenced, rather than an updated version of themselves.
This has always been an aspect of Earth Crises' second coming, which made sense at least at first… if only to keep them from sounding like a simple nostalgia act. On Neutralize the Threat, they seemed to strike the balance between their old and new selves almost perfectly, with an album packed with punishing riffs and memorable tunes (especially the title track: Self!…PRESERVATION!!!). But with this new album, I get the feeling that if you played it without telling the listener who it was, it would be hard to tell that it's Earth Crisis (aside from some of the lyrics). Salvation of Innocents sounds less like Earth Crisis and more like an blended version of Hatebreed, Chimaira and Unearth. Sure, those are all great bands, but the fog is so thick that there's barely any hint of the original Earth Crisis sound to be found here.
Don't get me wrong, this is still good metallic hardcore. In a big way, the style would not exist or would not have developed the way it did without Earth Crisis. There's nothing wrong with thrashy-riffs, breakdowns and lyrics damning the pitfalls of modern society. But the approach here just feels too safe, too familiar – too many 2006ish riffs, too many "-ion" words all over the place. It's a lot like the trap Sworn Enemy fell into in the mid-aughts. As Real as it Gets is an amazingly good hardcore album, but much of what came after it relied too much on techniques that contemporary metal bands had already exhausted.
Still, the band does know how to deliver when they really want to. Some of the breakdowns here are pretty sweet, and many of the riffs here are positively crushing as well. Most of the album's strong moments come in around the end of the record with guitar-heavy tracks like "The Pallid Surgeon", "Devoted to Death" and "Into Nothingness."
Look, no one should take this review to mean, "they should go back to their old style!!!" There's a reason why Destroy the Machines is so special: Earth Crisis only made it once. Most bands should avoid hopelessly allowing their style to dwell in past glories. But I was still hoping for something more remarkable here, something that would make me say "THIS is a great Earth Crisis song!!!" I still love band and would gladly pay money to see them live again. I'm sure the better songs here will tear it up just fine…when mixed in with "Gomorrah's Season Ends" and "Wrath of Sanity."
Favorite Songs: "Razors Through Flesh", "The Pallid Surgeon", "Devoted to Death", "Into Nothingness"
When he's not infuriating people with his album reviews, Drew Zalucky is busy writing for his political website, For the Sake of Argument