Anything you could say about about metalcore beyond the new millennium is likely a valid and justified crucifixion. Whatever reputation that’d come afterwards had long divorced from its late 80’s/early 90’s hardcore bones and crossover thrash metal flesh, at least enough that it bears remembering fuzzier times when metalcore was an entirely different beast from birth. That first decade of metallic hardcore history surely began in the late 80’s but wouldn’t resemble (then) modern pit music until the early 90’s where groups like Integrity, Ringworm, Merauder and Strife pushed beyond the cranked guitar tones and chugging breakdown riffs of New Jersey, New York and Midwest hardcore towards implementation of heavier thrash/groove and eventually extreme metal skill level and tonality. The late 90’s saw a second generation of these bands receiving bigger contracts and visibility though there was no obvious reasoning as to why a group like Hatebreed was the next big thing and say, Earth Crisis (or any of the older aforementioned groups) weren’t. In hindsight, maybe it was the rap-rock album? Exciting as these times were for the late 90’s teenager such as myself there was no salable path forward for these groups once melodic metalcore, mathcore, and post-metal made overnight relics of most. The thrashing 90’s style metalcore band has become an almost fully retired niche these last couple of decades but more and more bands have chosen to kick back towards the simplicity and severe rage that embodied 90’s hardcore. I’d generally count Enemy of Creation in that rarefied circle based off of their two EPs these last two years.
‘Victims of the Cross’ does call back to the style of records like ‘Master Killer’ from Merauder or ‘For Those Who Were Crucified’ from All Out War in the most immediate sense but there are some key differences in their approach that avoid a puritanical 90’s metalcore diagnosis. Influences from modern crossover thrash such as Power Trip are faintly notable within this Indiana based quartet’s sound but I’d point towards the melodrama of records like Integrity‘s ‘Seasons in the Size of Days’ more enthusiastically than I’d suggest that moshable Cro-Mags style crossover-core fashion of late. The closer “Buried in Guilt” definitely calls back to the pit-centric zeitgeist of the late 90’s bruiser mentality and the gang shouts on the title track, “Victims of the Cross”, do a fantastic job of recollecting that era. On one hand they’ve captured the spirit of an era perfectly and made it heavier, on the other hand they aren’t writing songs that’ll stick in your head unless you’re a die-hard hardcore head.
If you do find yourself eventually looking beyond those 90’s metalcore influences, Enemy of Creation offer more value than pure nostalgia; Some of their appeal (in my case, at least) arises from a pointed bout of hatred for the Catholic church and its centuries of cruelty towards humanity. Blasphemous thrashing 90’s metalcore? I’ll be honest, I was just a little bit more sold on the band as a whole for their aggress upon the Christian tradition of hypocrisy, exploitation and victimization and some nods to death metal here and there made it all the more engaging. It isn’t the sort of EP I’d expected from Camo Pants Records, who’ve so far primarily death with ‘old school’ death metal bands but it was a nice nostalgic surprise for me as I’d grown up during the 90’s. Moderately high recommendation for folks looking for some moshable old school metalcore with a death-metallic/crossover edge. For preview I’d suggest the title track and the ‘Firestorm’-esque “Lies” as each showcase the strengths of the band’s sound/style thus far.
No more chances, it’s time to burn. 3.5/5.0
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