Not content with merely resting on past accomplishments or recycling old hooks in the nooks and crannies of their flagship bands, Only Crime is a unit that exists to create something new and exciting in the artistic lives of its members. You can call them what you will: hardcore, punk, jazz, or hardcore punk jazz, one thing is certain, they are a band with music that sounds fresh and invigorating.
‘Pursuance’ comes seven full years after Only Crime’s sophomore release ‘Virulence.’ A lot has changed in the lives of the band members since that time: health issues faced and beaten, bands broken up and reunited, other projects started and stopped. What hasn’t changed is the passion these five have to make high quality, hard hitting punk rock for no other reason than that’s what they want to do. Never mind that these five have all come from bands that routinely sell out shows and have released records that can be officially labeled as classics. In Only Crime, they’re just five guys making a mighty racket.
It doesn’t take long after hitting play on the first track of ‘Pursuance’ for you to pick out that familiar gritty delivery that could only belong to Russ Rankin. The galloping, angry, half spoken belt of the verse that gives way to an impossibly infectious shout along chorus will feel as comfortable as an old glove (to anyone familiar with Only Crime’s past two records).
‘Contagious’ cranks up the heat even more with a hot iron blast of melodic hardcore tied together with Rankin’s trademark deep lyrical ideals and challenges to the listener not to be a dink in life.
‘In Blood’ doesn’t sound a million miles away from what Good Riddance were up to on ‘My Republic.’
The jazz music that so influences Bill’s writing is particularly evident on ‘One Last Breath’, with its restless time signatures and skittering melodies.
‘Drowning’ is one of the record’s heavier moments. It also features the jazzy restlessness of ‘One Last Breath’ which happen with such turn on a dime moments, it’s almost disorienting until you begin to find the flow.
I’m unsure whether this was the goal or to what extent, but ‘Absolution’ is kind of an awkward moment on the record. It’s catchy as hell and musically sharp, but there’s an audible disconnect between what Rankin is singing and what the band is playing during the chorus. Rankin has said that writing hooks and melodies to the music the band is coming up with is always a big challenge and while it’s not a bad song in and of itself, that challenge is most evident here.
There have been songs on both of Only Crime’s previous releases that blur the line between hardcore and metal. And if hardcore is merely metal with all the melody stripped away, then these songs are hardcore to the…well, to the core. I’m a sucker for a hook and these tend to be the songs I’ll skip over, but what I can say for ‘No Truth in Love’ on this record is that the music matches the sentiment. This isn’t a song you’ll find yourself compelled to kiss your girl (or guy) to up on make out hill.
Released as the first single and initial appetite whetter for the album, ‘Life Was Fair’ is appropriately one of ‘Pursuances’ finest moments. One of the album’s catchiest, most musically astute tracks, if this band ever achieves a legendary status, this song will go down as a classic moment.
‘See it Die’ is more accelerator-pinned hardcore, exciting and uncompromising. While album closer ‘Bred To Fail’ sounds familiar and entirely new and fresh at the same time, often at the same exact moment. That’s a rare thing for a song to be. Particularly a punk song.
Only Crime has some impressive musicians among its ranks and it would be hard to imagine how this much talent could go to waste. Luckily, you don’t have to. ‘Pursuance’ carries the same experimental aesthetic as ‘Virulence’ and ‘To The Nines’ but adds a tighter, more focused sound, capitalizing on the promise of those earlier releases. The songs hit hard, fast, are often exceedingly catchy and despite occasionally sounding as if singer and bandmates are heading in two different directions, contain elements that should please fans of any of the members better known groups.