Transplants – In a Warzone (Epitaph)
Available now from here
Rancid man returns with dark side project that is still great despite less of the punk/rap fusion
What is it with Tim Armstrong?
Does this guy ever stop writing stuff?
Does he ever write a bad song? He must have a head full of brawling melodies and an urge to record them every day- it’s like an avalanche of scorched earth punk rock classics and each one armed with a great tune.
No wonder he has no time to shave and is sporting a ferociously huge black beard these days!
Not only in the middle of recording a new Rancid album he has somehow found time to resurrect the Transplants- the loose confederation of him, Travis from Blink 42 and Rob the skinhead.
Initially a side project to incorporate some different neo hip hop rhythms into the punk rock melee, the Transplants debut album was a great release- full of unexpected twists and turns as it aligned two rebel musics into a new form- one of the best punk rock albums of the period and one that remembered that punk rock was more than just a style of music but was still raw and thrilling.
The follow up was slightly less interesting but still one of my favourite albums of the year and the project seemed to have been shelved but here they are back with another crack at the never ending stock pile of Armstrong ideas and tunes.
It’s not a return to those more experimental early days and is mostly a dark and thrashed punk take on the, ahem, terror of modern life. There is an opening salvo of songs that are pure hardcore thrashes about the end times and they are effectively powerful and of course anthemically great but it’s not until Somethings Different when they mash up hip hop and punk rock into their own form.
This is what we buy into the Transplants for – this fusion and despite the fact that their punk songs are great (Armstrong is incapable of writing a bad punk rock anthem) but it’s these mash ups that make the Transplants really interesting and the gruff vocals and hooky guitar line bouncing against the loping hip hop beat of this song make it the stand out track on the album. Not that the punk songs are bad, far from it- they are insanely catchy as ever and an album full of them is still a killer release.
The album is, of course, stuffed full of great melodies and Tim’s charismatic slurred voice is a great foil to Skinhead Rob’s effective bellow and the drums are outrageous in their dexterity and clattering rhythmic power- they make all this seem so effortless as they deliver a great punk rock album with a dark apocolytpic edge whose only drawback is there are just not enough of the bouncing fusions.