Virulence – If This Isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989


By Gruesome Greg

Hard to believe that members of this band went on to form Fu Manchu and Nebula, as there isn’t a song about lowriders to be found on this 20-track, 80-minute compilation. All kidding aside, Virulence served as a starting point for Scott Hill and Ruben Romano, the quartet rounded out by founding Fu bassist Mark Abshire and singer Ken Pucci, who went to college instead of playing stoner rock.

Although there’s nary a stoner groove to be found, Virulence still played pretty slow in heavy instrumentals like “The Curse” and “Worse Than Misery”. While commonly referred to as a hardcore band, their sound melded the early, pre-sludge as performed by the Melvins and Neurosis with L.A. HC bands like Blast and Black Flag. Pucci musta did a lot of standing around on stage during the slow, heavy bits—his vocals were standard, raw-leather hardcore barks that didn’t really fit with the direction the band was taking.

In addition to the reissued If This Isn’t A Dream full-length are a dozen tunes recorded live and/or taken from various split 7 inchers, which show the evolution of the Virulence sound. A pretty cool find from a band on the cusp of the post-hardcore movement—especially considering the direction its members went afterwards. I guess they didn’t start smoking reefer till they moved away from their parents…

(Southern Lord)

Rating: 7.5

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.