Sound — 6
It's been over 20 years since the hardcore band Earth Crisis formed, and since they were active during the '90s, they of course played a notable influence in the fusion of hardcore and metal genres. Though the band broke up in 2001 and spent several years on separate music projects, they ended up reforming in 2007, and are continuing to put out albums, much to the delight of seasoned metalheads. While their new release, "Salvation of Innocents," is exactly what you'd expect musically from the veteran rockers, it's also a concept album centered around animal cruelty and liberation - and with Earth Crisis being absolutely forthright when it comes to animal rights, it's no surprise they would take on a concept such as this.
For the most part, the sound aspect is the signature mid-tempo and low-tempo metalcore you'd expect from Earth Crisis, but there are a couple of curveballs. They utilize the clean vocal style in "Depraved Indifference," "Into Nothingness" and "Shiver," which has been met with mixed feelings from critics and fans; and while the clean vocals only make small appearances on "Depraved Indifference" and "Into Nothingness," they don't mesh well with the screaming vocals and guitars in the chorus of "Shiver," and it sounds messy. The other curveball is "The Morbid Glare": according to guitarist Scott Crouse, this was the fastest song the band has ever made, and they found it to be challenging. But the end result was successful in being a frenzied, heavy-hitting track, and is definitely a high point in the album. Aside from that, the rest of the album is very straightforward. Along with the juicy, muted guitar riffs, "Out of the Cages" and "Into Nothingness" have nice pick slides, and the guitar wailing in "The Pallid Surgeon" ingeniously fits with the painstaking story in the lyrics. While there are plenty of double-bass rolls in every song, the drum-lines are most active in "The Morbid Glare," "Into Nothingness" and "Tentacles of the Altering Eye." The bass also gets to enjoy a strong presence in "Tentacles of the Altering Eye," as well as in "The Pallid Surgeon" and "Final Breath."
Lyrics — 7
This is where "Salvation of Innocents" shines. While Earth Crisis has always been inclined to include socially-charged lyrics in their music, the lyrics in this album work in complement with the comic book, "Liberator," and tell the story of a custodian that frees imprisoned animals that are intended for cruel experiments. Though the theme of the entire album is embedded in the single issue of animal rights, Earth Crisis does an alright job mixing up the approaches. Songs like "De-Desensitize," "Depraved Indifference" and "Into Nothingness" are in the perspective of the protagonist, containing lines that both articulate the disgust towards the animal cruelty ("the horror that won't subside/like a tumor that grows and multiplies") and the desire to intervene and save the captive animals ("set for emancipation/from conviction to commitment/liberate through action"). Songs like "Shiver," "No Reason," and "Final Breath" are in the perspective of the imprisoned animals, and paint a chilling portrayal of being victim towards atrocity ("locked in constraints/with blades slicing through our skin/blood spills from the wounds/as the torture begins"). And songs like "The Morbid Glare," "Razors in Flesh" and "The Pallid Surgeon" put the spectacle on the perpetrators of the animal cruelty, and of course, Earth Crisis paints them in a very negative light. There are times when narratives are repeated, but for the most part, Earth Crisis does a good job spreading out one subject amongst 12 songs.
Overall Impression — 7
When a band has an ample discography like Earth Crisis, it becomes tough to have a new album stand out from all of the previous albums that have come before it. While "Salvation of Innocents" doesn't try mixing things up musically, it adopts a worthy concept, making the entire album worthwhile as a whole. Had "Salvation of Innocents" been another general assortment of whatever social issues Earth Crisis wanted to make songs about (animal rights would have probably been a subject anyways), the album would have come off as bland, and less remarkable in the group of eight albums Earth Crisis has under their belt. This album is good for animal rights activists that want to shout their beliefs, as well as Earth Crisis fans (both old and new) that would be down for a very angry session of storytime.