Turbonegro, the Scandinavian double-edge sword who contribute to both culture and the downfall (or enlightenment!) of man, have returned with their seventh album, Rock n’ Roll Machine. Even in this new era of deathpunk, they remain predictably unpredictable with this album’s 13 tracks blending a wall of guitar riffs with synth-laden arena rock and other aspects of Roth-era Van Halen. There’s a feeling in Rock n’ Roll Machine that parallels the Party Animals era with the production value and songwriting elements it holds. It’s definitely a separation from the straight-up punk rock fury featured on their last LP, Sexual Harassment, so you’re either going to love this record or not, but these guys still write catchy music and combine it with cleverly written dark humor.
As the re-resurrection perseveres, there is a new face in the lineup to plaster with eyeliner and kutte up. Rock n’ Roll Machine introduces new keys man, Crown Prince Haakon Marius, filling the long-vacated spot where pizza maven/onstage manimal, Pal Pot Pamparius, left a void since his departure in 2010. While unlikely to blast audiences faces off by alternating between keys and a Gibson Explorer, he does play a mean synth and you’ll hear it on this album.
Rock n’ Roll Machine boasts a few notable moments throughout its runtime; the biggest is actually hearing frontman Tony “The Duke of Nothing” Sylvester SING for once! Not only that, he sings on a track that has a Steve Perry co-write written all over it called “John Carpenter Power Ballad.” It begins with a Judas Priest-like intro and then goes into something that elicits visions of Marty McFly, Mega Man, and the man standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It’s something we’ve never heard before from these guys.
After the intro message is delivered in the synth-led track “The Rock n’ Roll Suite Part 1: Chrome Ozone Creation,” the album kicks off in fine fashion with the rapid down strokes of “Well Hello,” which puts it straight that the cultural icons of Oslo/London have returned. “Skinhead Rock n’ Roll” is a cathartic power ballad of dudes-who-just-want-to-ROCK features bassist Happy Tom reaching an octave in the chorus that is just as impressive as the guitar work by resident virtuoso Euroboy in conjunction with Marius’s keys work. The lyrical narrative behind the politically incorrect “On The Rag” sounds like a brutal day that no one needs to go through, one of the more fast-paced songs on the record. Finally, the Bon Scott era of AC/DC in contemporary times lives on with the fist-pumping anthem, appropriately titled “Fist City.”
The rest is up to your ears, so go into this record with an open mind. Order a copy from Burger Records here.
– Album review by Matthew Hutchison