Turbonegro, the gang of denim clad faux-homosexual punk glamsters, are back. For over a decade frontman Hank Von Helvete cut a dashing figure with makeup stolen from Alice Cooper and a huge beer belly hanging over his belt. In 2010 Hank left the band and Turbonegro looked to be dead. But bass player, and band mastermind, Happy Tom would not submit to a dignified, graceful exit in their prime that would allow their legacy to live on. This band does not do dignified and the only thing graceful about them is the way they apply their glitter.
The band has recruited Englishman Tony Sylvester, most well known for metal/punk noisemongers Dukes of Nothing. I was trepidatious. Martin has a husky voice that is three quarters of the way to the cookie monster growl that is ruining metal nowadays with its ubiquitous banality. Definitely a far cry from Hanks recognizable tenor.
After listening to the album I am still unsure how I feel. Sylvester manages to be a bit more diverse than I feared. Although opener “I Got A Knife” had me a little worried. Sylvester screams dumb, and not good Turbonegro dumb, lyrics over some pretty violent punk. But soon the band, and Sylvester, open up a little. The band adding in more of their joyful 70’s glam clichés and Sylvester backing off the bark a bit. His voice displays a noticeable strain when the material requires melodicism rather than force, like on the chorus for “Shake Your Shit Machine”. Luckily, though, they seem to find a level of happy compromise between the bands strengths and Sylvester’s competencies on songs like “TNA (The Nihilistic Army)”, “Mister Sister”, and “Tight Jeans, Loose Leash”. The album culminates in single “You Give Me Worms” which can stand reasonably alongside anything they’ve ever done.
Hank’s exit is noticeable (as is the loss of their fantastic drummer Chris Summers). But the band’s hunger is as well. This is not a half hearted attempt to keep the money train rolling. It is a real band and one that should continue, but whether this is the beginning of a new era is still to be seen.
Tags: a.d. terbush, Reviews, Turbonegro, Turbonegro - Sexual Harassment album review, Turbonegro - Sexual Harassment review