Review Summary: The Dropkick Murphys find a way to deliver at an astronomical level once again, and settle a bit into a comfort zone.
In 2003, the Dropkick Murphys made a statement. “Blackout” was their most inspired and best record to date, and a blatant indication that the band had developed massively from debut “Do or Die.” With that said, many bands in the history of music have released just one spectacular record that exists well above their other works. The question for the Dropkick Murphys was this: Could they continue to grow and top “Blackout”? Well, some would say yes, but the argument can be made that the Murphys could not push the quality of the music past “Blackout” with their 2005 release “Warrior’s Code.” This particular record is likely the most accessible and well-known album by the band, and therefore a favorite by many Dropkick Murphys fans. To compare “Warrior’s Code” to “Blackout” however, does not do the record justice. “Warrior’s Code” is still an outstanding album in its own right, and marks a two year period (2003-2005) in which the band is at its finest.
When we last left the Dropkick Murphys, the band had perfected their sound; the harmonies were exceptional, bagpipes tremendous, and energy and exhilaration at an astronomical level. “Warrior’s Code” is very much the same in this light, for the record is brilliantly varied and features some of the band’s best work. Among these tracks is the Dropkick Murphys most famous song I’m Shipping Up to Boston
. A great deal of the song’s popularity stemmed from its appearance in the Martin Scorsese picture “The Departed” from just a few years ago. I’m Shipping Up to Boston
is a sailing song in which features an unforgettable accordion and banjo riff. The lyrics are quite humorous, for Barr and Casey exclaim, “I’m shipping off…to find my wooden leg!”
“Warrior’s Code” opens with a bang, despite the piano and bagpipe line at a low dynamic in the opening seconds of Your Spirit’s Alive
. The introduction is quite misleading, for distorted guitars come thundering in twenty seconds into the track, and soon after Barr comes in with his terrifying growl. If the opener is an indication of anything, it is merely that the band is not wasting any time getting started. With this particular record, the listener is introduced to something very upbeat, intense, and invigorating with a few hidden gems in between. “Warrior’s Code” also doesn’t cease to be hilarious however, for Wicked Sensitive Crew
is purely comic relief. Aside from the lyrics, the context of the song is amusing with Barr and Casey possessing enough coarse vocals to scare a grown man. Well, maybe I shouldn’t go that far. You can’t help, but smile when Barr shouts “I ain't ashamed I cried when Mickey died in Rocky II!” It is clear the Murphys are changing things up, the force and accelerated pace of Citizen C.I.A.
holding true to this. Sunshine Highway
, while appearing to be a bit too much of a pop song for the Dropkick Murphys features some of the band’s best instrumental work; the bagpipe, accordion, and guitars soar, demonstrating that the Murphys had a blast recording the song.
The ambition of the record is there; the Murphys developed a tremendous song out of Brendan Behan’s poem The Auld Triangle
. This track in particular utilizes a misleading piano and irish flute intro not unlike Your Spirit’s Alive
, and comes crashing in with heavily distorted guitars. The Auld Triangle
is a much more brilliant track however, the lyrics are incredible and bagpipes fitting. In the track’s moments Barr indicates, “Oh! the day was dying and the wind was sighing, as I lay there crying in my prison cell.” This is not the most tragic piece of the record however, for the cover of Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France
is a lyrical masterpiece. The Dropkick Murphys do the track a great deal of justice with piano-laden backing music and beautiful Irish flute leads. The lyrics themselves are enough to issue a tearjeaker, “And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind? In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined. And though you died back in 1916, to that loyal heart you're forever nineteen.” The Green Fields of France
is an ode to the young ones that were lost in World War I, especially Willie McBride whose family only had “An old photograph torn, tattered, and stained” of him.
While “Warrior’s Code” may not be quite up to par with “Blackout” it is certainly one of the band’s best works, demonstrating their ability to be both sentimental and aggressive. This record may be an indication that a Celtic-punk classic is not impossible to expect from the Dropkick Murphys, but neither this nor “Blackout” is one. From the light Captain Kelly’s Kitchen
to the lively Last Letter Home
, the Murphys deliver an absolutely exceptional album that will forever be committed to their name.
The Warrior’s Code
Wicked Sensitive Crew
The Green Fields of France
I’m Shipping Up to Boston
The Auld Triangle