Review Summary: Something seems to be missing from Virulence and to say the record is solid seems to be a disappointment
When a collective unit of wonderfully accomplished musicians come together and strive to make something special, the results usually come out mixed. Either they achieve the magic they were destined for, or they simply fall flat on their faces in the midst of the hype they received. Of course we’re talking about the enigma of “supergroups”. Countless of these enigmas have come across over the years; and most of them regrettably never inched towards their potential. The worst (and most recent) of these and the one most will be familiar with, would be the simply forgettable theatrics of Angels and Airwaves
. Still, all of these bands share one thing in common-potential. That’s the thousand-dollar word here, potential
. This brings us to the surprisingly promising hardcore group, Only Crime
. Comprised of members from such legendary and prolific hardcore/punk groups like Descendents, Good Riddance, Bane, ALL and even the most legendary of them all, Black Flag. While the members would avoid as much as possible to be coined as a ‘supergroup’, one could only lump them into this infamous category.
Now what comes first and foremost in people’s minds when they think of these sorts of groups is usually a sense of excitement and anxiousness that can get any elitist going. This same feeling will resonate through every mind, and Only Crime’s Virulence
disappoints. While the musicianship is well done, the song writing only feels like a half-cooked and an example of a band working at 50 percent. Virulence
isn't going to be breaking any boundaries, and the band doesn't seem like it wants to; which calls into question the band's ability to craft punk songs that float above the stink-pile of most of today's scene. Virulence
is 12 tracks of standard melodic-hardcore with enough melodic tinge and fist-pumping energy to satisfy any fan of punk. But instinctively Only Crime should be able to achieve a lot more and be considered to be more than “good” or equally as "solid". Not only for the reason of a loaded line-up, but even because of the fact that the band has been playing for a few years now, forming in 2002. Thankfully, it seems. the years have not gone in vain in that Russ Rankin's voice intregrates seamlessly into the band's hard-hitting sound with a bleeding urgency unrivaled. Russ seems to be leaning towards a more pop-oriented direction on cuts like “Take Me” and “Shotgun”, which ends up sounding like Sum 41 more than anything else. While this might be true, the newly added melodicism works on other tracks like “Everything for You” and the angst of “Too Loose”, which showcases Only Crime’s flexibility though relative to what they could achieve. The best moments of Virulence come during the sing-along moments of songs like “Eyes of the World” and “This is Wretched”, which unsurprisingly are highlights of the album.
Guitar three-chord explosions and doses of rumbling bass drive most of the songs and this is complemented well with the bleeding rat-a-tat-tat of Russ Rankin’s voice. With this said, something seems to be missing from Virulence
and to reflect afterwards and only be considered to be a solid record which would not make it devoid of any disappointment. But one thing Only Crime excels at is the aspect of lyricism. As the title implies, Virulence is a venomous, deadly and indefinably belligerent in its lyrical delivery. Russ Rankin tackles subjects ranging from veganism, animal cruelty and the standard, unity and government. While these subjects might seem standard, they are lifted to a more hard-hitting and thought-provoking level with the use of metaphors and personification, which gives the idea that Only Crime knows what they are talking about. Particular lyrical highlights include Clouds line the ethereal sky/But the air's too thin and nobody knows why/Time's gone down on the sentinel's watch/Brace for the fall because it's never going to stop
on “Framed then failed”, which exemplifies the personification used in the lyrics. This gives them a subtlety to them but at the same time remain virulent which deepens the lyrics’ effectiveness.
But even this can’t justify the large cloud of disappointment that lurks over this record. Virulence is a solid record and while it is indeed solid, it’s still seems like a mediocre and lazy effort by a band who is capable of something really great.