Hardcore isn't dead, despite myriad attempts by modern rock to extinguish the scene. The passion and fervor inherent to the fans and purveyors of said genre have kept it alive, and will undoubtedly continue to do so until it engulfs the saturated mainstream or self-combusts. Carrying the torch into the New Year and illuminating what may very well prove to be the future of hardcore music, Only Crime unveils their latest achievement – Virulence.

Of course, combining the vocal capabilities of one Russ Rankin (Good Riddance) with the percussionary prowess of punk powerhouse Bill Stevenson (Descendents, All, Black Flag), in addition to the guitar stylings of Aaron Dalbec (Bane, Converge, Velocity Engine), Zach Blair (Hagfish, Gwar) and Donivan Blair (Hagfish, Armstrong) on bass, understandably makes for an eclectic, yet potent production.

Virulence delivers all the intensity one would expect from a hardcore album, yet transcends the very boundaries which define the genre itself. Although distinctly hardcore upon first listen, the album bears subtle nuances which can only be discerned and appreciated after truly absorbing Virulence in its entirety.

Guttural bass lines, poignant lyrics, crunching guitar riffs and crushing drums aside, the album also exudes a sound that is catchy at times. “Everything For You,” “Shotgun” and “Just Us” swing betwixt punk tinged with captivating harmonies and melodies to an all-out hardcore barrage that is certain to appeal to devotees of both genres.

With Virulence, Only Crime has essentially achieved what bands such as Rise Against have attained through the development of a sound which blends the appeal of modern punk's less-abrasive sensibilities with the pure aggression (both lyrically and musically) of hardcore music. The result is a palatable production that will surely be a beacon of hope to hardcore fans the world over and a guiding light for those seeking a welcome respite from today's saturated music scene.

Grade: A