I never did take the time to seek out 2009’s To the Death, the return to the scene for these Syracuse Straight Edgers after an 8-year hiatus, but judging by what I’m hearing here, I should have. The band have never sounded so focused, so precise, and so musically accomplished as they do on Neutralize the Threat. Of course their earliest material for Victory had a little more venom in its bite and more overall ferocity, but you know the whole fine wine analogy by now I hope. I really enjoyed most of what vocalist Karl Buechner did with Freya during his main band layoff, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m one of about six people who didn’t completely despise the band’s dismal failure of a swansong, 2000’s Slither. Sure it wasn’t really Earth Crisis, but it wasn’t the fucking Limp Bizkit album some critics made it out to be. However, you can turn the page on that petty argument now. This album is pure Metallic Hardcore brilliance 22 years in the making. This has the feel of their older records but with more refined skill. Production from Zeuss never hurts either. Breakdowns are employed, but not overdone (“Total War,” “Counterstrike”). Throughout the entire album, melody is engaged but never overplayed. They can even, at this stage of their career, tap into a Punk-like energy when needed (“Black Talons Tear”). Buechner’s angry bark is still as fierce as they come, yet the lyrical theme of the album seems to have a concept deeper than, “I’ll fucking kill you if you smoke that cigarette, cheeseburger eater!” Is Earth Crisis finally ready to have a beer with me?
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