Earth Crisis Want To 'Nurture' Hardcore Scene; Plus Metallica, Black Dahlia Murder & More News That Rules, In Metal File

EC frontman Karl Buechner worries that labels are 'just going for the easy sell, for shock-value stuff.'

For six long years, the members of Syracuse, New York, vegan straight-edge hardcore outfit Earth Crisis — which called it quits in 2001, only to re-form last year — have been busy doing other things.

Frontman Karl Buechner, for instance, has spent much of his time working with his other band, Freya, while guitarist Scott Crouse and drummer Dennis Merrick moved out to the West Coast to pursue new interests. But Earth Crisis have never forgotten about their ideals.

"I've never thought of us as a political band, because when people think of that term 'political band,' they either assume you're right-wing or left-wing — but we've always come from our own direction, more of a spiritual source," Buechner explained. "Personally, I'm not very impressed with either [political] party in the States right now. It seems like there are a lot of simple solutions, and neither side seems to be headed towards them."

Nonetheless, Earth Crisis' personal politics — on environmentalism, human rights, animal rights and sobriety — will likely shape Buechner's lyrics, as the reunited band continues to write songs for what will be its first new album since 2001's Last of the Sane. "But our message, it's one I feel all people can support, no matter what religion they follow or what side of the political spectrum they associate themselves with," he said.

So, for longtime Earth Crisis fans, this next album — which the band has yet to title — won't sound too far off from EC of old. "We've got six songs [written] so far, and hopefully, we'll record them this year," the singer said of the LP, which the band hopes to have in stores sometime in '09. "Hopefully, we'll be playing some of these new songs we've written on this tour we're on [with Sworn Enemy, Shai Hulud, Terror, Down to Nothing and Recon, which runs through March 23 in Albany, New York]. People ask me what the songs sound like, and the best way to describe it is it's a mixture between [1995's] Destroying the Machines and [1998's] Breed the Killers. Stylistically, it's most like songs from those albums."

For Earth Crisis, the timing is ripe for their return, and with any luck, the band will reinvigorate what's been something of a monotonous hardcore scene these last few years — and teach the young kids out there, trying to make it in the metal game, just how it's done. The reunion also has the band excited about catching up with old friends.

"We made some genuine friendships over the years with bands that we toured with and people we stayed with — scenes we played year after year," he said. "Now, a lot of these people we're going to be seeing are dads or moms and have legit jobs — people who are e-mailing us and telling us they're stoked to see us come out. I think that's going to be fun."

Admittedly, though, Buechner's not so sure younger audiences will be as enthusiastic about Earth Crisis' resurrection — but he's positive members of the bands that are popular today will be psyched.

"Our goal as a band was to write songs that appeal to our taste in music, and a lot of other bands, to an extent, will take elements from groups that inspired them and fuse it into their sound," the singer said, without naming names. "Certain bands will sound similar to bands they grew up listening to, and that's almost inevitable. Our goals are the same as they were back in 2001. Hopefully, we can make our old fans happy and get some of the younger guys into some of these ideas too."

Plus, today's hardcore scene isn't as vital as it was back when EC cashed their chips in. But Buechner believes there's still good hardcore groups to be heard — fans just need to find them.

"There's plenty of quality hardcore out there, but a lot of the bigger labels now are not supporting and nurturing the genuine hardcore bands," he said. "They're just going for the easy sell, for shock-value stuff, where these guys basically wear a costume and their music is pop — anything that will sell to seventh- and eighth-graders. Hardcore brought us up, it taught us a code of ethics, and it gave us a scene — a group of friends to unify with, to accomplish things with. I want us to be able to nurture that.

"Hardcore will last forever, but it's just not trendy, and it could never be trendy, because when it's genuine, it's substance," he said. "What's going to sell more: records with an 'X' on the cover or CDs with an inverted pentagram or a pot leaf on them? I think it's pretty obvious."

The rest of the week's metal news:

After waiting years for word on when we might be able to expect their new album, Metallica have finally revealed that they'll be finished tracking the effort in six weeks; the band would like to have the record in stores this fall. Drummer Lars Ulrich told Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson on his BBC6 radio program that he likes "what I've heard so far. I'm not one of the great sellers of 'the new record's the best thing we've ever done and it sh--s all over the last record and it's way heavier.' I'm not a great believer in all that horsesh--. I like it, and I'm one of Metallica's harshest critics. So far, it feels pretty good, but there's still plenty of time to f--- it up, so let's see what happens." ...

We here at Metal File don't usually go the "blind item" route, usually because it drives us mad when other news organizations do it. But we've heard a rumor that's too good to pass up — and we can't be more specific than that. Let's just say one of the country's best-known metal acts looks to be parting ways with its major label and plans to return to its original label home in the next few months. We'll keep you posted and bring you more as it's made official. ... The dates for this year's Summer Slaughter Tour — featuring the Black Dahlia Murder, Vader, Despised Icon, Aborted and Cryptopsy, among others — have been announced. The trek gets under way in Detroit on June 20 and will wrap July 28 in Chicago. ...

In other tour news, Overkill, Toxic Holocaust and Warbringer will be hitting the road together in the fall. The jaunt begins September 25 in Houston, Texas, and runs through October 18 in Sayreville, New Jersey. ... Sad news this week: Black Death drummer Phil Bullard reportedly died — way back on February 6 — after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 59 and is survived by two daughters, Philicia and Earlicia; four grandchildren; and two sisters. ...

A May 27 release date has been set for former Emperor frontman Ihsahn's debut solo album, which will be called angL. The nine-track offering will feature a special guest appearance by Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt, on the track "Unhealer." ... Floridian blackened metal outfit Kult Ov Azazel have updated fans on the progress they've been making on Destroying the Sacred, the band's forthcoming fourth LP. The band plans to record the effort this fall and claims the record will boast a Possessed cover. Other songs set to appear on the album include "Prelude to Holocaust," "The Plagues of Mankind" and "The Lucifer Principal."