by a RAIL comrade
Breed the Killers, the latest release from Earth Crisis, will be enjoyed by anyone who has remained a fan through the last two albums. ExC have demonstrated that they have found their sound and will stick to it (slow, brutal hardcore). That's not to say that they haven't tried anything new on this album. Karl lets the rest of the band back him up on vocals a few times, which should evoke some sing alongs in the pit. Musically, Breed the Killers, will make the crowd move and will leave ExC fans satisfied.
Lyrically, ExC has grown as one of the most influential militant bands in hardcore. While their early releases focused on veganism and straight edge, Karl has embraced a greater depth of issues with time. Their previous release, Gomorrah's Season Ends, showed this in the jacket which included a short essay on the problems of the world and how ExC hoped to be a part of the solution. They took a step backwards in the latest album jacket which details their dedication to the vegan lifestyle; something they seem to be bringing back to the forefront as they broaden their audience after leaving Victory Records for Roadrunner.
While it seemed ExC was making the connections between capitalism and the state of the world in Gomorrah's Season Ends, Breed the Killers reaffirms that they see veganism as the answer. The jacket reads, "If the meat industry was dismantled, the food produced in these fields could be fed to famished mouths worldwide." While they point out many advantages of veganism, this one is not accurate. In reality, enough food is produced to feed the world's people, but production for profit rather than use under capitalism prevents the distribution of food and causes people to dump it in the ocean rather than give it to people who need it.
This album does maintain a strong criticism of the current system's rulers ("false gods") and the drones who follow it. "Filthy Hands to Famished Mouths" addresses the genocide of the people in the third world, without quite pointing the finger at imperialism. The title track criticizes European supremacy and states that it will "breed the killers of the lies." This recognizes that the people will rise up in opposition to a system that oppresses them. Overall ExC does not follow this belief though. Living in the heart of imperialism they seem to have given up on most of the people around them and resorted to focoism to force their beliefs into effect as evidenced in "Ultramilitance," which proposes "direct action" by "masked rescuers," ignoring the need to address more systematic change. ExC and other young Amerikans with revolutionary ideas need to realize that they aren't alone in their struggle and that the best way to succeed is to ally with the oppressed nations of the world. Focoist activities only weaken the struggle by encouraging repression by the state. By allying with the oppressed, people in amerika can join a systematic struggle rather than depending on lifestyle changes such as veganism, which won't destroy the current system.
ExC finds a likely ally in Machine Head frontman Rob Flynn who helps Karl with the vocals in "One Against All," which predicts humynkind's self-destruction through greed and competition. Breed the Killers has the same gloomy feel as the previous album as Karl's lyrics predict the demise of humyns and describe the destructive effects of narcotics. But as always ExC puts forth a message of action. This is clear in the final track which is their classic song "Ecocide" with Karl's matured vocal style. "The power of the dollar can't take precedence / Over the inevitable detrimental consequence / The time to react is long overdue / From protest to confrontation by me and by you" True environmentalists will join MIM in the struggle against the destructive forces of capitalism, and for a more harmonious world where decisions are based on the needs of the people and not on profit.
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Fans of the new ExC stuff will find a much older flavor in their first releases, which is a bit faster with more sing along potential. This 7" turned CD classic is Earth Crisis' first release which brought them fame in upstate New York, which would soon spread round the world. The title track (All Out War) has brought ExC to the forefront of the militant vegan movement. "Stand By" puts forth similar ideas proclaiming, "for innocent victims we will attack." The second track, "Ecocide," calls for action against money hungry capitalists who are destroying the Amazon rainforest. This song points the finger in the right direction, blaming capitalism for environmental degradation. The final track on this CD, "No Allegiance," is a militant straight edge song, criticizing those who have turned to a life of drugs. This song is counterproductive by alienating those who have given in to escapism, rather than struggling to prevent people from giving in. The song starts out "There will be no allegiance / with those who turn to sin." This takes a moralistic stance that puts lifestyle choice in the forefront. While we should not refuse to associate with someone because of their decision to escape through drugs, it can become a great problem on both the personal and political level.
In revolutionary China, the masses led by the Communist Party attacked drug addiction as a public health problem. MIM views drug and alcohol dependence the same way today. While we do not vilify the masses for their lifestyle choices, we recognize that addiction is a barrier to political work just as mental and physical illnesses can be. As the Black Panthers did, we aim to be strong enough to build our own Serve the People Medical Programs, including detoxification and rehabilitation. Serve the People Programs that address the people's basic needs are central to the mass work of Maoism. We aim to show the people that we put their well-being ahead of all else; proving this is the only way to gain their support.
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One year after their first release, the Firestorm 7"/CD came out with a similar flavor. Both 7"s are faster than the new stuff and Karl still hasn't developed the throaty style that he has today. Yet both are classics that arouse strong crowd response at live shows. While the prior release called for "all out war" in defense of animals, the title track on this release declares war against "corrupt politicians, corrupt enforcement, drug lords and dealers" in defense of innocent children who are victims of drugs and abuse. Here their attacks are misguided, and serve to unite white youth against internal colonies, rather than uniting all youth against the u$ government and it's drug cartelling. ExC blames "corrupt" politicians and enforcement, implying there are a few (or many) bad seeds, and ignoring the corrupt system that is the enemy of the people. Also they blame drug lords and dealers, but again it must be made clear that the u$ goverment is the true drug lord. Because oppressed nations are the disproportionate victims of these drugs, to fight drugs on the street can end up furthering national oppresion, as seen with the War on Drugs.
"Forged in the Flames" is a step forward as it describes the personal strength gained through straight edge, rather than attacking those who use drugs as they did in "No Allegiance" on their previous release. The third song, "Unseen Holocaust," vividly depicts the destruction of indigenous people throughout the American continents and ends by acknowledging their continuing struggle and saying, "stop the unseen holocaust." The final track, "Eden's Demise," describes "mankind's supremist mentality" that has destroyed the world around us and will in turn destroy humynkind. Once again ExC points to greed as the source of this destruction. Later the song says, "A peaceful world can evolve after animal liberation." This line has no scientific basis in reality.
To end oppression in the world it is important to identify the principal contradiction, which when resolved, will do the most to further humyns towards a harmonious existence. Fighting for animal liberation does not benefit the struggle of the oppressed people, however the fight for communism benefits the whole world in the long run. To join communists in the struggle to overthrow capitalism is actually the most effective way to fight for animal liberation. Animal liberationists would have better access to the media under socialism and more freedom to agitate politically. The distribution system under socialism would make healthy vegan diets accessable to all people. Also, socialism would abolish much decadent luxury production like the production of fur coats and much meat production (especially the part of meat production that owes its existence to imperialism) in favor of producing things that are more urgently needed to meet people's needs. Hopes for a vegan world can never be realized under capitalism.
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The first full length release by Earth Crisis is a transition stage musically for the band, while lyrically it is less advanced than their later releases. With this release ExC found themselves being labeled as metalcore by many due to the heavier, slower sound they developed on this album. Still, the sound is distinct from their current style which is even heavier and much more growly, rather than screamy. The title track is about focoist action to prevent the destruction of the natural environment. They ignore the larger battle to destroy capitalism and focus on small-scale illegal actions, which have no permanent effects, except to weaken the struggle. This is a strategy that they have maintained throughout their years as a band.
The first track, "Forced March," describes our decadent society: "Lives of excess lust and material greed / A slave to their own desires, apathetic to those in need." However, this album fails to address the issues of the oppressed nations in the third world or here in the u$ as they do on other albums. Destroy the Machines focuses on animal and earth liberation. These issues are addressed in the reviews of Firestorm and Breed the Killers.
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From the artwork, to the music, to the lyrics, this is by far the most gloomy album Earth Crisis has released. Yet they haven't given up hope. With their slogan "there is a war, this is a weapon" they make it clear that they are educating kids about the problems of the world and calling on them to act. This effort is clear on the inside jacket which describes the many problems of the world from environmental degradation, to bigotry, to more systematic issues of oppression. It links them all together into one battle. Though gloomy, this is also ExC's most progressive release yet. However, they still fall short in the action department, encouraging focoism rather than protracted struggle for communism.
"Cease to Exist" is a doomsday song, describing a world destroyed by nuclear war. "All creation lays at the mercy of madmen / Whose commands could cast us into World War III." While this song is a good criticism of cold war and imperialist militarism, MIM has a couple comments on the above quote. First, the people who control these weapons of mass destruction are not "madmen," they know exactly what they're doing. Of course they still have no right to put the lives of billions in danger over their power struggles. Second, MIM would argue that WWIII is already going on. There just haven't been many weapons of mass destruction used, as it has been limited to low-intensity warfare in third world countries all over.
ExC has progressed ideologically in its views of straight edge. For example, in the title track Karl sings, "An effective revolutionary through the clarity of mind that I've attained." They have taken on the growing idea of straight edge as a beginning and not an end in itself. On this album they also sympathize with those who suffer from their addictions to drugs in "Situation Degenerates."
Although ExC has held focoist views in their struggle for earth and animal liberation, they criticize certain terrorist activities which target civilians in "Names Carved into Granite." The distinction here is that they are criticizing those who attack innocent people to further their cause. This song could be applied to u$ activities in Iraq and Yugoslavia: "Potential military targets are left untouched by the cowards who instead kill unconnected innocents." While the u$ hasn't left the military targets untouched, they have done extensive damage to the civilian population through bombings of the infrastructures and through sanctions.
The last song, "Forgiveness Denied," is about revenge for victims of rape and abuse and says, "the guilty must be slain." This is a common view in society and in the context of a partiarchal system where law and order amplify gender oppression it is reactionary; it shouldn't be allowed to turn into reality. MIM has shown extensively that efforts to lock up or kill rapists through the injustice system has only led to locking up more black men and increasing national oppression. That is why MIM does not look for a solution to rape in increased incarceration and expanding the use of the death penalty. But rather we must change the system so that all people are equal, and men do not have power over wimmin and children. However this cannot be achieved while oppressed nations still suffer under imperialism. Therefore MIM's principal work is opposing imperialism and supporting national liberation as the quickest path towards ending all oppression. This struggle will clear the path to eliminate other differences such as class and gender, and is therefore the most effective way to end rape and abuse.
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This is a live recording from a December 7, 1997 show at the former Hungry Charlies in ExC's home town of Syracuse, NY. The set opens up with a brutal rendition of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." The CD contains high quality live versions of many favorite ExC songs, some of which are much revised from their original versions. You also get two unreleased tracks. The cover song, two new tracks, and quality live recordings make this CD a worthwhile buy for ExC fans.
The first new track is a short but heavy song titled "Smash or Be Smashed." This song criticizes the dog eat dog mentality of our capitalist society, where only the powerful survive and the rest are smashed. "Fate of the Neo-Gods" is also uncharacteristically short for an ExC song. It puts forth a strong message that we will all be affected by disaster, even those who act like gods. The song criticizes those who ignore the problems of the world, stating that they'll know they were wrong when tragedy falls upon us all. It then criticizes the "Neo-Gods" who are allowed to continue in their destructive ways by those who refuse to acknowledge the truth and stop them. ExC is lacking the idea of material interest, that explains why most people in imperialist countries are willing to work with the system because it usually works for them. However, this song addresses world disaster which will affect even the wealthy of the world. ExC seems to be calling for a unity among people to change things as they criticize special interest groups: "A selfish focus / The special interest flight / Only compounds havoc. / The holistic picture / Stays unviewed and worsens. / It is the reason violators live / While innocents are terminated." This song questions how much longer things can continue as they are, and clearly calls for people to unite for the common good before we are all destroyed. This involves a struggle against militarism and other destructive imperialist activities. A peaceful world can evolve after communist revolution.
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