A Hostile Smirk Environment
The metalsphere is loaded with American bands trying to sound like their Scandanavian counterparts, chiefly in the realm of deathcore and other violently loud genres. Turbonegro is the opposite—a Norwegian punk-metal five-piece with roots in American and British hardcore. With Sexual Harassment, their ninth studio album and first with new singer Tony Sylvester (AKA The Duke of Nothing), Turbonegro has produced its heaviest and most accessible album to date.
Starting with the opening notes of “I Got a Knife,” it’s clear this is not a continuation of Turbonegro with a different singer. The raw, derivative-yet-experimental feel of previous albums has evolved into a cleaner, heavier, more focused rock ‘n’ roll approach. Sylvester sounds like Rocket from the Crypt’s Speedo with a touch of Lemmy. The music fits right along, plodding and straight-forward, riff-based. The melodies are simple and catchy in an Alice Cooper/Van Halen way, but they stop just short of being cheesy. This is important because there is some built-in silliness with titles like “Shake Your Shit Machine” and “Tight Jeans, Loose Leash.” Overused riffs would cause the band to be written off as parody, and they are deadly serious about their craft. “Rise Below” could be a hit single today and it could have been a hit single in 1982. First single “You Give Me Worms” closes the album, and you will be singing it long after the track has ended.
Turbonegro is anachronistic, but it’s difficult to figure out in which era they belong. Or perhaps they are simply timeless. It’s also tough to discern if Sexual Harassment represents a new direction or a 33-minute experiment. Still, for their first album in five years, it’s solid and it rocks.