After multiple hiatuses, two successful albums and a host of famous members, from Tim Armstrong to Travis Barker, Transplants are back with their third offering In a Warzone. But before you let the title put you off, this is not another American Idiot fiasco. In a Warzone is a superior offering of punk rock, without the preachiness of ageing Billie Joe Armstrong, and for that we can be glad. There are no misnomers, or misgivings with these guys, they are exactly what they say on the tin. They enjoy making music, and enjoy experimenting with sounds outside the punk rock realm.
The opening title-track is everything fans will have come to expect from Transplants: loud, obnoxious rap. Unfortunately track number two ‘All Over Again’ disappoints; ironically, its lyrics diagree, claiming: “You never cease to amaze me, never cease to disappoint”. This chorus is annoyingly repetitive.
Midway through the album, the track’ See It to Believe I’t sounds oddly like Blink-182’s ‘The Rock Show’, it’s almost a carbon copy of the intro, but then it spirals again into disappointment with the repetitive yelling of the song title. ‘Something’s Different’ takes a slightly different route, slowing things down, but then ultimately reverting back to their format of repetitive choruses, repeating one line over and over.
Barker’s drumming is predictably top notch, the riffs and rhythms are catchy, but the lyrics from start to finish really let this album down. It seems they spent little to no time on that aspect, it’s like lyrical limbo.
‘Come Around’ is the most memorable song on the album because it is a true example of what this talented collective are capable of, reminiscent of ‘DJ, DJ’ or ‘Weight on My Mind’ from their 2002 Transplants release. They shake things up slightly when they experiment with a touch of drum and bass on ‘It’s a Problem’, but again it doesn’t manage to save the album.
You could lump them in with the likes of NOFX, the Vandals and indeed Rancid – the easiest comparisons for their fun punk rock with a hip-hop twist. The group’s musical genre history can probably be best described as punk rock with a hint of rap, and reggae, and this album is no different, albeit a little less memorable.
As lead singer Rob Aston says: “When we started this band 13 years ago, we weren’t worried about who was going to like us, we still aren’t.” Fair enough so.