When the Transplants burst on the scene back in 2002 with their self titled debut, they were one of the most innovative and inspiring bands in the punk rock scene. Mixing hip-hop and electronic flourishes with raw punk aggression, the band sounded like nothing else out there. The follow-up album, 2005’s Haunted Cities largely followed the same format, albeit a touch on the mellower side. Since then, the band has been silent, with each member taking the time to work on their individual projects outside of Transplants. Now, nearly eight years after their last album, the Transplants return with the blistering In A Warzone.
From the moment the title track of the new record kicks in, it’s obvious that the Transplants haven’t mellowed with age. In fact, quite the contrary. The first three tracks of In A Warzone are breakneck punk rock, that are more reminiscent of unreleased Rancid tracks instead of the distinct sound that’s been their calling card. It’s not until the Bun-B featured “Something’s Different” where the band sounds like the creative unit they once were. The respite is short lived though, as another trio of hyper aggressive punk rock are up next. The intensity of “Silence” and relentless groove of “All Over Again” will surely make great pit-starters live, but musically, they come across somewhat uninspired. A taste of old school Transplants finally arrives with “It’s A Problem.” Musically, it’s the most enjoyable cut on In A Warzone, with drum & bass interplay against middle eastern vibes, but it’s lyrical description of various drug habits bring down the overall energy and vibe of the track. In A Warzone is rounded out with yet another trio of full throttle punk rock cuts that show only glimpses of the diversity of their back catalog.
Initially, In A Warzone comes off as somewhat of a letdown. Many of the elements that made their first two records so innovative are either heavily subdued or gone altogether, replaced with high octane punk rock fury that rarely lets up. That being said, the album is a refreshing slab of relentless energy, especially in a day and age where too few artists actually harness their anger with such cohesion. Ultimately, even though In A Warzone doesn’t live up to the hybrid punk-hop of its counterparts, it’s streamlined intensity is enough to keep the listener interested (and angry.)