Earth Crisis' chugging riffs and barked declarations served as the mouthpiece of America's militant vegan straight-edge movement throughout the '90s, detailing the ideas of animal and human liberation, drug-free living, and personal empowerment through hardcore song. The vegan straight-edge movement spawned activists who took the law into their own hands, burning down fur farms and freeing animals directly. Earth Crisis began as the brainchild of Karl Buechner -- who intended to play bass -- and his friend DJ Rose. The lineup eventually solidified with Buechner on vocals, Ian "Bulldog" Edwards on bass, guitarist Scott Crouse, drummer Mike Ricardi, and a guitarist named Ben. This lineup began playing around Syracuse, spreading the message of veganism and the drug-free lifestyle previously preached in the hardcore scene by Vegan Reich, Statement, and Raid. Earth Crisis crafted a five-song demo and sent it to the label that had released those bands' records, Hardline. But with that label on hiatus, they decided to release their first EP through a local friend's imprint, Conviction. All Out War came out on 7" single format, with the band embarking upon their first U.S. tour in support of it. Drummer Dennis Merrick -- who would become almost as important in shaping the band's political ideology as Buechner -- came aboard around this time as Ricardi was unable to commit himself to touring. The interest that built up in the hardcore scene around the band, along with a new demo, brought Earth Crisis to the attention of Chicago's Victory label and a deal was signed. Earth Crisis set about making their first EP for the label; Firestorm was a landmark release for the hardcore scene that combined staccato, solo-free metal with barking, political, and militant vocals. The lyrics centered around the dangers of drug abuse and bringing "violence against violence" to drug dealers and those who would abuse animals: "a firestorm to purify."