Virulence (Fat Wreck)
By Ewan Wadharmi
No one really expected John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards to continue as The Dirty Mac beyond Rock And Roll Circus (Yoko broke this one up just by being onstage). Who wants to get attached to a group that has its members in so many pies? So if you mistakenly missed Only Crime‘s first disc, I can’t really fault you. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Only Crime had actually managed a second release and tour, and with the same lineup. Here’s the rundown: Russ Rankin (Good Riddance) vocals, Bill Stevenson (All, Descendents) drums, Aaron Dalbec (Converge, Bane) guitar, Zach Blair (Hagfish, Armstrong) guitar, Doni Blair (Hagfish, Armstrong) bass.
2004’s To The Nines proved the strength of this outfit, but even seasoned musicians like these need to gel. Their steely resolve and reckless drive carries over to Virulence, with a tighter, more mature delivery. The lyrics are informed, but resist high-brow excesses, as “Eyes of The World” demonstrates, “That feral genius / is sick to the touch / to sever a secret /we love it too much.” What appears a comment on Iraq to some is vague enough to be applied elsewhere. “Framed Then Failed” addresses the ecology with a resigned bleakness, even as brash guitars renew the desperation. The personal “Just Us” holds out a hand for atonement between friends.
Fat Wreck wants you to think that “While the members of Only Crime aren’t new, their music is like nothing you’ve heard before.” Thanks, Fat Mike, for that string of words that means nothing. Really, if you read their resumes, you’ll know what to expect: The backbone of ferocious pounding, chugging guitars, tasteful solos, and intelligible shouting, and t’ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Keep this up and they’ll be the pop-punk Velvet Revolver. Oh God, I just threw up a little bit there.