ALBUM OF THE DAY: EARTH CRISES, DESTROY THE MACHINES [VIA BELIEVER]
You can’t talk about 90’s hardcore without devoting a substantial part of that conversation to the boys who put the sleepy town of Syracuse, NY on the map: Earth Crisis. For anybody who wasn’t in the hardcore scene back then, it’s hard to describe the impact they had or how controversial they were. You either loved them or hated them for bringing both metal and veganism into the hardcore scene, and I definitely loved them. I’ll save the discussion of their politics and all that for another time, and focus on what’s more important to me these days: their music.
“Forced March,” my personal favorite ExC song– the intro riff is so sick!!
With a career spanning 1989 to the present, they’ve got a lot of material to choose from, but to me 1995’s Destroy the Machines LP is their definitive release. It’s basically five hardcore kids’ take on the Pantera/Exhorder/Prong school of late 80s/early 90s “power groove” thrash, and if you ask me, it’s pretty fucking great. I still think this album has one of the best guitar sounds ever recorded (as I recall from what they told me ten years ago, Scott Krause had an ESP played through a Rocktron Chameleon preamp into a Mesa Boogie tube power amp and Marshall cabinets, and Jim Winters played a Jackson Soloist into a JCM-800 and a Marshall 4×12, if you are curious), and the songwriting still sounds very fresh today.While I’d be surprised if they were actually an influence, they arguably beat Machine Head to the Burn My Eyes punch by a couple of years, but never really got credit for it.
“Dimensions” was what I thought the followup to “Destroy The Machines” should have sounded like– instead we got the underwhelming “Gomorrah’s Season Ends”
By the way, if you are wondering why this album sounds so much like Believer’s third album Dimensions, it’s because the both feature PA hardcore/metal legend and overall weirdo Jim Winters on guitar (who also played in Conviction, Starkweather, and probably a bunch of other excellent bands). Rumor has it that he wrote a lot of Destroy the Machines, but I’ve never asked anybody in Earth Crisis so I can neither confirm nor deny this. If nothing else, I definitely suggest that any EC fans check out Dimensions and vice versa.
Hilarious and awesome 1995 news segment on Earth Crisis and the Syracuse vegan straightedge hardcore scene– a good introduction for anyone who wasn’t around back then (yes, it’s fucking weird), and a nice dose of nostalgia for those who were. If nothing else, please note how huge everybody’s pants were! Also, the live version of the One King Down song in this video is soooo fucking good!!!!!
Anyhow, I can’t believe I’m being Mr. Old School about a record that came out in 1995, but to me, this is what metalcore should be — not cookie-cutter breakdowns with passionless, phony screaming on top or boring, riff-salad deathcore, but tight, heavy songs that you can actually sing along to. And while I am the farthest thing from vegan or straightedge these days, I definitely miss the sincerity and integrity that bands like Earth Crisis had during that time. And while most 90’s hardcore has not stood the test of time, Destroy the Machines will always be on my playlist!
Stay tuned for an interview with EC guitarist Scott Krause — in the mean time, buy Destroy the Machines on iTunes, cop the newest ExC record To The Death on Century Media, and relive the 90s through my earlier post “5 Things I Miss About 90s Hardcore” for Stuck In The Past.