Review Summary: Debauchery and excess has a soundtrack - it's surprisingly catchy.
For all their screenplay-worthy off-stage drama, for all their pantomime-worthy on-stage theatrics, Turbonegro manage to consistently outshine these constituent elements of their cult status with that most important of elements – their music. Very few contemporary groups manage to so effortlessly blend style with substance the way Turbonegro do. Their unique blend of punk, proto-punk, rock 'n' roll and glam, delivered in their customary tongue-in-cheek manner, never fails to rock your pants off. Promoting smiles and good times with genuinely good music has become almost anachronistic over the last twenty years. No Turbonegro album makes you as acutely aware of this rather sad fact as Apocalypse Dudes
– a smirk-inducing, body-shaking affair of epic proportions.
is Turbonegro's watershed album. While their previous album, *ss Cobra
, marked a subtle evolution from their more boisterous early punk efforts, Apocalypse Dudes
cements – and arguably perfects – their trademark sound. Much of this can be credited to the addition of lead guitarist, Euroboy, to the line-up prior to the recording of the album. Euroboy was very much the missing piece of the Turbonegro puzzle. Every song on the album (and, indeed, on subsequent albums) bears his distinctive mark and is better off for it. Turbonegro's always catchy major scale power chord progressions are supplemented with Euroboy's trademark tone-perfect bluesy lead riffs and solos. It's audio alchemy of the highest order.
Aware of their new artillery, Turbonegro don't waste any time in flaunting it. I can think of few better opening tracks than "The Age Of Pamparius", one of the finest rock songs of the last quarter century. The song has everything – a melodramatic, almost Uriah Heep-esque intro, killer riffs everywhere, chuckle-worthy lyrics, sleaze-tastic vocal hooks and (despite being played out a bit thanks to Wildboyz
) one of the catchiest choruses ever created. They simultaneously embrace and parody the overblown rock-opera, perfectly setting the tone for the remainder of the record.
A brilliant opener, however, is often tantamount to an album shooting its load prematurely, setting up the rest of the record for comparative mediocrity. And while, admittedly, the rest of Apocalypse Dudes
doesn't quite scale the same heights as "The Age Of Pamparius", it does not for a moment run the risk of mediocrity. Every track drips with attitude and comes replete with memorable (and hilarious) lyrics, snarl-inducing riffing, head-bobbing verse progressions and the unmistakable crack-cocaine choruses of Hank Von Helvete. Turbonegro have a formula then, but never does Apocalypse Dudes
run the risk of becoming painfully formulaic. The general recipe remains the same, but the constituent ingredients change from track to track, giving each song a unique identity while maintaining a general sonic unity. Some little drumming variations, the addition of some piano here and there, Euroboy's brilliance and Mr. Von Helvete's arresting vocal presence all add a little bit of spice where needed to stop the album from becoming too samey. Indeed, pretty much every song on the album – with the possible exception of the borderline filler "Are You Ready (For Some Darkness)" – is tight enough to be a radio single with significant crossover appeal (with some cleaning up in places, of course).
What you have then with Apocalypse Dudes
is an album that is both easy to love and difficult to hate. While, granted, black metal kids might not be rushing to the stores to buy the record – although the band is Norwegian and Hank Von Helvete could quite easily be confused as one of their own – Turbonegro's exquisite execution of the sort of music they peddle means that few have a sound basis to discredit it. Apocalypse Dudes
is an archetypical cult classic, recommended for anybody vaguely interested in good music and good times.