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Transplants: In a Warzone (EPITAPH) 

When Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Travis Barker of Blink-182 and emerging rapper Rob Aston struck out as Transplants in 2002, they did more than just ignore the boundaries of punk and rap.

Transplants found enough inspiration to reel off a debut record that not only sounded fresh, but also had more than a couple of memorable tunes.

Re-emerging again after a second breakup and hiatus, Transplants sound content to just play to their strengths. And the degree that it works on In a Warzone is a credit mostly to Armstrong and Barker's talents.

Former roadie Aston is at his best on the aggressive opening title track, a pummeling two-minute blast of shouting about civil unrest to accompany buzz-saw guitars, the even shorter rage-filled "Silence," and the violent "Completely Detach." But his presence wears out quick.

The band's oddly compelling debut single "Diamonds and Guns" remains the best thing it has done, a creatively effective synthesis of punk and crime narrative hip-hop. In a Warzone mostly ignores what made "Diamonds and Guns" a reason for Transplants to exist, and is inevitably scattered by its multi-singer, hybridized nature.

This third album is mostly a straight-ahead punk album—raw, aggressive and obviously guided by a load of talent. But the strength of songs like "See It to Believe It" and "Back to You," are merely reminders that it's been a long wait since the last Rancid album.

More by Eric Swedlund

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