Without all the crossover appeal and hilarious guitar solos, Earth Crisis preaches the same gospel of capitalist hypocrisy and personal identity that has made Rage Against the Machine iconoclast superstars. In fact, Earth Crisis might even be more stringent and political. You certainly won't land on Total Request Live
or the cover of Rolling Stone
with a song like "Dawn of the Biomachines," an unflinching look at animal cruelty for corporate profit that'll ensure you won't be able to look the Mary Kay cosmetics woman in the eye again. Earth Crisis's musical dedication to hardcore comes with all the meaty, mega-distorted riffs and agonized screaming that have become associated with the genre. You either like this or you don't, and few have good reason to. For the uninitiated, it completely lacks dynamic pull: A few tunes start out with dreamy studio atmospherics, only to dive straight into the same full-blown screaming fit that powered the track before. Unless you're standing in the middle of a frothing mosh pit, the effect eventually wears off. The initiated, however, hang on every incendiary word. Vocalist Karl Buechner rocks the 1984 vibe like there's no tomorrow -- he's got the hardcore growl down pat, but he can sing, too, crooning like a young Ozzy Osbourne or a drunk "Weird Al" Yankovic. Like labelmates Snapcase, Earth Crisis stands at the forefront of the small but intensely vocal hardcore scene, growling malignantly as it confronts a brave new world.