Allow me to preface. Anytime a band decides to re-record much herald material, it will be met with skepticism. Unless the original recording sounds like total trash, there is no reason to revisit the material to rerecord them. Very seldom do these new recordings offer up anything new other than the benefits of modern production. The emotion and energy are almost always lost because these aren’t fresh songs and ideas that have the band excited to put to record and, in most cases, feel like nothing more than a band going through the motions. There is also always the added aspect that it could be nothing more than a cash grab as well.

20 years ago Syracuse’s Vegan Straightedge Generals, Earth Crisis, released arguably their signature record in Destroy The Machines. With songs like The Discipline and New Ethic, their message of abstinence from drugs/alcohol and the demand for animal rights was made clear. It was this record that had a very lasting and massive influence on my own life and my decision to refrain from intoxication and the removal of dead animals from my dinner plate. I know I’m not alone in this situation as there have been countless others that contribute both Earth Crisis and the Destroy The Machines record to their lifestyle choices and that sentiment still continues to this day. So why after 20 years, would you dare to revisit something that is deemed timeless in the punk/hardcore scene and is still universally felt to still hold relevance in a vastly changed scene from when it was released? According to the band it was for the modern production value that they felt the record always deserved and to celebrate the anniversary. I, as many others, didn’t feel it was necessary but ok, I’ll play ball.

The EP starts out with title track and is truly the only time during the course of the 4 songs that I cringed. The modern production they were hoping for is apparent right from the beginning. The guitars have a lot more bite to them and the drums are massive compared to their original version. Karl’s more signature growling, that he’s been doing since Gomorrah’s Season Ends, is the major difference as the original vocal delivery was a much clearer bark. My major issue with this track is it takes until about the midway point for the band to sound like they are into it. It starts of rough and forced and then out of nowhere they appear to have settled in and are enjoying redoing this old song. In a battle of new vs. old, the original clearly wins on this track.

Next up is, Behind The Mask, a song from the Firestorm Demo (not to be confused with the Firestorm EP) and a track that was eventually re-released on a 7” a few years ago. For those who have never heard the original demo, good for you. While the songs are good and a clear indication of where Earth Crisis was headed, it sounds like absolute trash. I mean they’ve stated many times that they were practicing in a flooded basement when they first started so I can let them slide on not having a well-produced demo tape, especially in 1991. Regardless, the modern production does wonders to improve this song. It also seems like the band was stoked to revisit a song they haven’t played in 20 years. It’s one of those relearning to ride a bike moments. It’s also a bit refreshing to hear a bit of the old Earth Crisis come out on what is essentially a new track to most people. It’s been about 20 years since the “core” has been the dominating style in the bands material and it’s nice to see them drift back to that after years of essentially being a metal band. New vs. Old? Definitely new. Without a question.

For track 3, we’re back to the Destroy The Machines record with the new version of New Ethic. If The Discipline was the anthem for the Straightedge, New Ethic was the battle cry for the Vegans. Unlike the slow to start issue of the first track, the band seems to have a pulse right from the get go on this one. The only major difference again is that the song sounds bigger with the aid of the modern production. While the band seems to have life on this track, it is still a bit void of the raw emotion they had 20 years ago. The old version wins on this track.

Lastly, to wrap up this EP, the band visits another track from the demo and one that was also on that previously mentioned 7”, in the song In Time Of Strife. Everything that I said about Behind The Mask holds true to this song as well. The modern production improves on the original so much that it’s almost a new song now. The new wins again.

Now that it’s all said and done, I’m still not sure why the band opted to rerecord anything on Destroy The Machines. I would have understood a remastered anniversary edition but to revisit two of the album’s key songs for a standalone release seems a bit of a waste of time. After hearing how good the previously rarely listened too demo tracks sound, I would have much rather have had them just go all in and rerecord all the songs that never made it onto another release. Goddess Of Death and Forced To Kill would have been much more interesting options than the Destroy The Machines track. Hell, studio versions of Smash Or Be Smashed and Fate Of The Neo-Gods would have been welcomed additions as well.

All in all, this isn’t a terrible release. It’s at least worth snatching for the demo songs because they are legitimately awesome Earth Crisis tracks and finally received the treatment they deserved. It will be one of those “up to the individual” type scenarios if you can get down with the new versions of The Discipline and New Ethic though.