Veteran Syracuse metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis have been championing that sound since the early 1990s while tackling subjects such as animal rights, veganism and fighting environmental issues within their songs. Their hard hitting sound paved the way for the early versions of what was known as metalcore began to influence those who fused hardcore and heavy metal into a brand new sound.
Their moment came full circle as they took part on this year’s Knotfest in Devore, CA and nearly 20 years ago they also played on the first Ozzfest at the very same venue.
“We’ve been up to California quite a bit for the past few years. We were out here with Terror and Sworn Enemy. We played with One Choice and Cavalera Conspiracy,” said band vocalist Karl Buechner, about their recent treks out west.
Playing the second stage of the fest, they got to take part on one of the larger hard music fests in the United States. Landing a mid day slot on Day One, they were greeted by a packed crowd who were also eager to see other bands such as At The Gates who were on directly after them.
“Thank you to Slipknot for hand picking us for the festival and putting us on, and to all of the great bands we got to play with today. It was awesome to see At The Gates. We’re looking forward to seeing Slipknot of course and Judas Priest. It’s a stacked bill. Thanks to all of our fans in California who come out to the shows and supporting Neutralize the Threat and Salvation,” commented Buechner.
Since their return to the music scene, following a brief hiatus between 2001 and 2007, they have continued to wave the flag for the sound they championed for over two decades. Guitarist Scott Crouse and drummer Dennis Merrick explained about returning from their hiatus, following the release of their 2001 record Slither.
“We’ve been doing it since 2007 in a more laid back fashion than we used to,” said Crouse.
“We’ve put out three records since then – three full lengths and this year we’ve put out a four song EP – re-recorded two songs from Destroy The Machines and two previously unreleased tracks with Josh Grobelle of Bullet Tooth. We’re still doing stuff. Still playing shows,” said Merrick.
2015 was the 20 year anniversary of the band’s 1995 debut release Destroy The Machines, and the record that introduced a new generation of heavy music fans to a new metallic driven heavy metal sound.
While much of the year was focused around the anniversary set plus the release of their new EP The Discipline, they are concluding that leg with their rescheduled California dates in February 2016.
“We’re pretty much done with that. We had a show booked at Chain Reaction in Anaheim we had to make up. So that will be the last Destroy the Machines show in its entirety show,” said guitarist Scott Crouse.
“So far this year, we’ve played the Black N Blue Bowl, Southeast Beast, a festival in Detroit, Carry the Weight Fest VI and a headliner in Sheffield are where we exclusively did the Destroy The Machines set,” added Buechner.
Would they look into doing other albums in its entirety? Crouse mentioned the next in line was their 1996 album Gomorrah’s Season Ends. “It’s a lot of re-learning,” he said.
“It would be cool to combine some songs from Gomorrah’s [Season Ends] and Breed [The Killers]. Maybe do a combo set,” said Buechner, thinking aloud.
Being that Earth Crisis has celebrated 24 years of existence total, their message behind their songs has not changed much over the years. Themes such as animal rights, environmental issues and veganism are still a central part of the band’s message, which is now adapted towards what is happening in modern times.
“Our message is the same. We believe in kindness towards animals. I think one of the reasons we grew up with those thoughts that are in the forethoughts in our minds was because in Syracuse the city is on the shores of one of the most polluted lakes in North America are on Lake Onondaga [and] have all sorts of toxic poisons in it with factories and clouds of pollution going into the sky – something that would settle around us. A little bit to the north were the dead lakes in the Adirondacks. There was acid rain coming in from Canada, carrying all of the poisons from the factories, and all of the fish and vegetation were dying.”
“When Dennis and I were teenagers, Chernobyl happened. It definitely felt like things were being destroyed around us. So that’s why we took it so seriously,” said Buechner.
“I think now too, veganism for diet has been more of a mainstream thing. The plight of animals is still there. In a way it’s gotten to be more at a critical point. Factory farming has gotten so huge. People are still consuming insane amounts of meat, even though veganism is getting more mainstream.”
“There’s still tons of animals dying and being tortured in laboratories. A lot of organizations end up still doing things, like that No New Animals Lab organization from Seattle trying to stop the killing in underground animal laboratories. The Sheff campaign was a real successful campaign trying to stop animal testing. There’s still very good reasons why we’re doing what we do. The last record Salvation is focused on animal testing more than it was on the meat industry,” added Merrick.
One hotly contested subject that could appear on their future albums is Monsanto, the controversial sustainable agricultural company who has been linked with dumping poisonous chemicals into commonly eaten foods and their ties within the food industry. The band has referenced them, alongside subjects such as genetic engineering and modifying plants for human use on their two recent albums, To the Death and Neutralize the Threat, which adds to their arsenal of hot topics worked into their songs.
“The more you dig into that the more diabolical it is. Their new game – what they’re doing is buying up natural companies and then they use them to stop bills that are labeling genetically modifying ingredients.”
“What they’re for – they’re against labeling, which really Monsanto owns. A lot of these mainstream health products you see in all of the stores, Monsanto has their hands [on them]. They have their hands on their enemies to try to sway the public,” said Crouse, about the controversial company.
“I’m not sure if this is a proven fact or not, but one of the rumors is that in Monsanto or one of the places where the scientists design these things. They have organic food in their cafeteria.”
“We’ve never put that much emphasis on the health benefits of veganism. We’ve always tried to come from the animal liberation side of things to get people to understand what was going on in the laboratories and factory farms and the slaughter houses and the ranches and the Japanese whaling fleets and everything else that’s going on. The oceans are dying,” added Buechner.
Earth Crisis was well recognized for including the veganism subject within many of their songs. While this was one of many subjects the band was well known for, the general attitude towards the band and the subjects they based their songs around had greatly changed over the years. Veganism was no longer a taboo subject, and something the public became a bit more open towards.
“In a way back then when we started people didn’t know what veganism was in the mainstream but there was definitely a lot of underground support for it,” explained Merrick. “In the punk and hardcore community there were a lot of kids that were vegan and that’s kind of shifted. I think veganism for health reasons in a lot of ways have been co-opted by the mainstream and less popular in the underground punk scene. It’s counter culture because it’s not considered a mainstream thing.”
“It’s not a struggle as much. Maybe the counterculture kids steer away from it because their mom or their mom’s friend might be vegan,” said Crouse.
“In some ways it was a good it was co-opted by the mainstream for vegans, whether it was for animal rights or health or environmental issues. It’s for the animals and the environment anyways,” added Merrick.
While Earth Crisis is running once again, the various members have their other musical ventures happening at the same time. Buechner gave the status of his other band Freya, who had been working on their new album, and how the two bands’ schedules balance out.
“We actually had the drummer from Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) play on our new record. It’s done and my guitar player (Brendan Flynn) is doing all of the artwork and the layout,” he said.
“It actually has worked out very well balancing things between the two bands. Freya’s actually played more countries in Europe than Earth Crisis has at this point. We were further into the east last time we went over. We stayed for two months. So it’s great. We work on Earth Crisis and then when people want to focus on other things….I mean all of these guys do other bands as well. Scott’s working on a band with Jimmy [Chang] from Gut Feeling and the singer of Cursed, and Andy [Hurley] of Fall Out Boy. I’m working on Freya.”