While I make it clear that White Zombie is my favorite band of all time, I also make sure to mention that there is no band out there that has affected me on a more personal level than Syracuse’s Earth Crisis. Known for their hard stance against drugs and alcohol as well as their affection for all living creatures, their message made such an impact on the confused 14 year old me that I have adopted a lot of their message in my own life. From the moment I first heard them and all the albums from All Out War to Breed The Killers, Earth Crisis was flawless to me and seemed to improve with age. Then Slither happened. It has been since that record that I now go into a new record from the Militant Vegan Straightedge Fivesome with a cringe like all characters from every horror movie as they open the closet, not knowing if the killer is in there or not. Jumping headfirst into the bands 7th full length album, Salvation Of Innocents was no exception.

Before Earth Crisis “broke up” in 2001, they were band that rarely conformed to trends. The nu-metal friend Slither was the sole exception. Destroy The Machines, along with records like Systems Overload and Truth In The Age Of Lies, was as important to what would become the metalcore scene, as records like Master Of Puppets and Reign In Blood were to the metal community. Their style of groove heavy metalcore without traditional song patterns was a sound that many bands tried to replicate. Upon the bands return from their hiatus, the roles seemed to have reversed. While 2009’s To The Death was arguably the bands heaviest offering, it marked a change in how Earth Crisis formatted their songs. More traditional verse/chorus/verse friendly material dominated the record and continued onto the follow-up in Neutralize The Threat. These records were solid and only marked a mild change after 8 years of being out of the game but it seems the writing was on the wall for more conformity.

This brings us to Salvation Of Innocents.

One of the biggest complaints that Slither had was the inclusion of clean vocals. It seems like a petty thing to complain about but when a band as angry at the world as Earth Crisis us that type of a melodic curveball it really takes the wind out of your sails. The album has been so poorly received that even the band kind of jokes about it in that “sorry for that” attitude. I’m all for a band trying to branch out and experiment, especially when the message is the most important aspect of the music. However, there is a point where you have to draw the line. The band didn’t do that and they paid dearly for it in criticism. Here we are 14 years after that debacle and we’re being thrown that curveball yet again. Yes, the clean vocals are back. Now it’s not nearly as bad as the vocals that reared their ugly head on Slither, it’s more of the current trend of trying to replicate the Kirk Windstein, half whine in misery type of clean vocals. Hell, even the 3rd song sounds like the band was listening to some Time Heals Nothing when they wrote it. Before everyone stops reading and gets all mad at the re-inclusion of these vocals, I will say some of it comes off rather tolerable after you get through the initial shock of hearing them and the good news is they only appear on half the songs.

Musically the record is still post-hiatus Earth Crisis. The verse/chorus/verse format still exists but the band has decided to experiment in some other positive ways. Along with the aforementioned Crowbar influence, the band seemed to tastefully include some elements of European melodic metalcore. It’s a throwback sound in terms of the where the metalcore genre is currently but it really worked blended in with Earth Crisis’ signature sound. Known for their relatively mid-paced approach to song speed, the band did write some fast jams this time out and the band blasts out of the gate right away with easily the 2 fastest Earth Crisis songs ever written.

It really pains me to give Earth Crisis less than a 100% positive review. As a band that really reached out to me with their message, I want nothing but the best from people I could consider idols. However, Salvation Of Innocents is a disappointment for me. It’s not all bad. Songs like The Morbid Glare, Out Of The Cages, and Final Breath are some of the best songs they’ve written post-hiatus and definitely worth the listen but the clean vocals and some of the melodies around them lost me on a bunch of the other tracks. With half the record being really good and the other half being a matter of your own personal taste, I would say to still check it out. This is one that a review isn’t going to give you enough of an idea, it’s one you need to decide on your own.