Born Again

Warrant

What’s Black ’N Blue and rocks all over? It’s Warrant, thundering up from where the down boys go with Born Again, featuring new singer Jaime St. James of Black ’N Blue behind Jani Lane’s mike, and an arsenal of songs that will blast old Aquanet residue right out of your ears. For those who’ve never left the 80s (or maybe never had the 80s leave them), Born Again is indeed the rebirth of the metal messiah you’ve been waiting for. And this rebirth is no miscarriage. It’s healthy, kicking and screaming rock and roll. Which is a feat in itself, considering that one band minus one decade devoid of new releases minus one lead singer/main songwriter is often an equation for disaster. Especially after a stumble in a quasi-alternative direction that really didn’t suit them.

With Born Again, Warrant is sure-footedly playing music that, for them, is as reflexive as breathing. And it shows. Gone is Lane’s tongue-in-cheek wordplay, but back is the epidemically catchy, hard-driving, harmony-laced party metal that’s stamped in these guys’ DNA. Every tune is played with mischievous relish. From the opening power chords of “Devil’s Juice,” these players bang it out as though they have cast-iron balls. Guitarists Erik Turner and Joey Allen are a tight, talented team, boasting adept rhythm work, and solos that are melodic and concise.

St. James’ vocals, while grittier than Lane’s, go shot-for-shot with the music. After the demise of the much-underrated Black ’N Blue, it’s gratifying to see him getting a rebirth of his own with Warrant. He also contributes significantly to the songwriting, painting the tunes he’s written or co-written, like “Roller Coaster,” “Hell, CA” and the standout “Roxy,” with a decidedly Black ’N Blue hue. Although some of the lyrics are throwaways (“I’m in love with an American girl/I like to drink and smoke and fight”) and several of the songs sort of drift away at the end, when the tunes are practically begging for a solid, ripping Kerrang, these flaws are dwarfed by the CD’s mounds of musical muscle. And, without Lane, that surprising strength should empower Warrant to not only survive, but thrive. Make a grown man cry, indeed!

~ Merryl Lentz

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