Meanwhile, caught in the eye of a blizzard of flames, in order to survive, the alpha denim recruits were forced to strip down to their...SCANDINAVIAN LEATHER!"
There's just something about rock or metal bands from Europe these days. It's like there's something in the water that allows them to produce at a level above and beyond our possibilities here in the West. There is absolutely no exception with these denim-clad rockers known as Turbonegro, who in most cases could single-handedly take credit for inspiring all that is rock in Europe currently.
Despite their renowned cult following and praise from critics for over a decade, Turbonegro like so many pioneers before their time, haven't been able to reap the benefits, unlike those that have followed in their foot steps. Acts such as The Hives have even publicly stated Turbonegro's influence on their sound, which could have been one of the driving forces behind this being their debut worldwide release for Burning Heart and Epitaph.
Turbonegro hail from the wonderful land of Black Metal, or Norway to you common folk, and despite many member changes have existed since 1988 roughly. Since their inception they've been crafting and inspiring the finest in metal influenced punk which they've coined conveniently as "Death Punk." As of late they could be described as a combination of the Ramones, a little MC5, a hint of the Misfits, a touch of Venom and a generous portion of early Alice Cooper.
"Scandinavian Leather" is the return album for Turbonegro since their brief hiatus due to lead vocalist Hank Von Helvete's metal breakdown, while on tour in 1998. It is a mild departure as it takes off from where their acclaimed "Apocalypse Dudes" album ended. However, this is not a reunion for Turbonegro but rather picking up where they last finished. It would almost seem like they never broke up, and unlike acts that get back together simply for the quick cash-grab, or to replicate their classic fan-favourites, it is sincere. They actually have something new to construct that continues their natural progression, instead of just trying to recreate the glory days by relenting to formulas from the past. This effort doesn't miss a beat and shows that even with some age they haven't lost an edge.
Turbonegro are a bit more ambitious than on their older records as they tackle more of a direct rock approach, and further the direction they explored on "Apocalypse Dudes." Their full ensemble of three guitarists is back along with the throbbing bass of Sailorman aka Happy Tom, hammering drums of Chris Summers and Von Helvete's infectious vocals. This opus contains thirteen rebel inspired rock songs in just over forty-five minutes, and is well beyond flawless. All of their classic elements of flamboyant, blistering guitar leads are included, rather than just straight-up four chord mayhem (a la Ass Cobra).
The lyrical content of Turbonegro is always interesting and despite popular belief, they are not a homosexual band. They do however love to toy with mind and emotion by writing in that style. "Wipe It 'Til It Bleeds" and "Sell Your Body (To The Night)" would be prime examples of such cryptic buggery. The themes explored on this effort are up to their usual standards with death, blood and domination to name a few. They even include the good time party songs about the forbidden fruit as demonstrated on "Train Of Flesh."
There is not a single second on this release that will disappoint anyone eager to hear something intense and inspiring. This is a must for the fanatics as it may very well be the tightest Turbonegro album to date, and a relentless comeback effort. Not to mention that it has amazing cover artwork and the best introduction to an album that I've heard in a very, very long time. This is easily the best Rock N' Roll record to be released this year by far, and is a must for anyone even remotely interested in the genre.
Chris "Rose City" O'Toole