Review Summary: “Say everybody, have you seen my balls/they’re turbo-powered and loud!”
I liken Turbo
to the song “Chocolate Salty Balls” in that there are some moments just so dumb and deliriously silly that you can’t help but sing along at the the top of your lungs. Sure, there’s a lot of padding around the good stuff, but the padding is serviceable, not tonally jarring, and there’s a definite personality to the music (which is more than I can say about Redeemer of Souls
The attitude and the conviction presented on Turbo
is the real reason you should consider downloading this album. It’s the type of conviction that made the band think it could sound edgy on songs like “Rock You All Around The World” amidst the polished production and all of the synthesizers. The contrast between the harder riffs and the glossy production definitely has that overblown, 80’s aesthetic, and I loved every indulgent minute of it.
The sound of Turbo
brings me to a big complaint that many fans have of this record: it’s formulaic. To that I say: yes, yes it is. However, formulaic can be fine as long as it doesn’t insult our intelligence. Lest we forget, the Judas Priest formula had been about simple verse-chorus structures coupled with melodic guitar hooks and a one-dimensional rhythm section ever since the late 1970’s. Mainstream audiences kept eating it up because it was accessible and it gave them the pretext they needed to say they liked a respected metal band. If you were to strip away the synthesizers (which admittedly help define the album’s personality), the compositions would still definitely be Judas Priest.
With that last paragraph though comes a giant asterisk called “For Better Or Worse.” For example, those who’ve never liked Rob Halford as a lyricist won’t change their minds when they hear him sing about how he’s a “human dynamo” who’s “fueled up and growin’ by the hour” (“Reckless”). These kinds of lyrics are acceptable though because good, well-thought-out lyrics wouldn’t match any song that Judas Priest wrote after Stained Class.
Lyrics portraying Halford as a sex god predominate the album and they work because of how absurd they are and how seriously they’re taken. I mentioned before how conviction and attitude really made this album shine, and with music and lyrics this ridiculous being taken so seriously by the band, it gets harder and harder to not admire their zeal.
The album’s other chief flaw is something I have a lot harder time forgiving. Speaking frankly, Ian Hill and Dave Holland may be the least inspired rhythm section that the metal genre has ever seen. To hear nothing but driving eighth note roots and Megan White beats for the majority of the album hurts quite a bit for me as a bassist and a songwriter, and it began to strain my acceptance of the Judas Priest formula by the latter half of the album.
At the end of the day though, I can’t bring myself to hate Turbo,
nor can I not recommend it. It’s essentially the soundtrack to a power fantasy, something so blissfully unaware of its own mortality that it feels good to let your guard down and indulge in its excess. On top of all of that, Turbo
is just fun, with Halford, Tipton and Downing compensating for their rhythm section with some truly inspired work here and there. I’d hate to close with something generic like “it depends on your taste in music,” so I’ll end by saying that Turbo
will appeal most to those who like to engage in a little healthy lunacy every now and then.
"Out In The Cold"
"Rock Your All Around The World"
"Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days"
"Parental Guidance" and "Private Property," for being the goofiest songs on Judas Priest’s Turbo.