In 2005, when this album was originally issued, grime was still a pretty new development on the international hip-hop scene. Manchester's four-man Virus Syndicate came with an alternately sharp and willfully stupid attitude, a blistering flow, and an unabashedly regional accent, and their debut was quite impressive. Grime has its limitations, of course, and it would be silly to call Work Related Illness anything other than a genre exercise: the lurching, off-balance beats, the horror-show samples, and the often chaotic mixes make this album both a frequently queasy pleasure and a complete product of its time and place. The wide-open spaces and dubwise basslines of "Karma" and "Wasted" expose the dancehall reggae roots of the grime genre (as do, unfortunately, the sometimes puerile lyrics), while the brilliant "Get Money" brings in more interesting and funky rhythmic variations and a more urgent and energetic vibe. But it's the album's opening track that really exposes this crew's depth of talent: "Slow Down" is simultaneously sludgy and menacing, and yet strangely hooky and compelling at the same time. Though it's now something of a historical document, Work Related Illness is much more than that as well.