Deathpunk goes Deathpop
Turbonegro is one of the more unorthodox punk bands in the scene, appearance wise. That is saying something for punk. Music wise, Turbonegro plays rather simpler music in terms of chords, songwriting and lyricism, but the band has gained a strong following over their 20-year run. Their newest release ROCKNROLL MACHINE is the group’s first release since 2012s Sexual Harassment, and it follows the Turbonegro formula of simple punk songs while broadening their levels of self-proclaimed “deathpunk” to a poppier sound.
“Part II: Well Hello” has simple power chords going for it, but there is some good lead guitar work, as well as keyboards and bass that make the instrumentals here satisfactory. What makes this song odd is the lyrical content. References of “making love to yourself in the park and “beat(ing) your meat in the middle of the street” are a little childish for a band that has been around for this long, but when you understand the Turbonegro aesthetic, it explains itself. It’s not for everyone, but old fans of the band may appreciate that sort of thing.
As for the title track, “Part III: RockNRoll Machine,” there isn’t anything breaking any barriers musically, but the addition of the robotic voice during the chorus is a fun feature that feels as if a collaboration between Daft Punk and the Darkness, if both those bands were some sort of punk act. “Skinhead Rock & Roll” is certainly not skinhead rock in the “Oi! Oi!” sense, but it is a textbook Van Halen song. The synths in the beginning sound almost identical to “Jump,” and even Anthony Madsen-Sylvester seems to be doing his best David Lee Roth impression.
Speaking of rip-offs, “Hot For Nietzsche” almost copies the “Won’t Get Fooled Again” classic Who synthesizers that are iconic with rock music. Anybody who has heard the song would be able to recognize that “Hot For Nietzsche,” while intentionally or unintentionally, sounds eerily similar to the Who track. “Special Education” is the last track on the album and instrumentally it might be the album’s peak. There are awesome riffs in the beginning and fun bass over the verse. Thomas Seltzers’ bass is something that might get overlooked when listening to the album, but it is actually one of the most catchy parts of ROCKNROLL MACHINE. While the instruments work, the lyrics are almost problematic. Referencing “special needs” and “special education” in contrast to wanting to have after-school sex with your teacher is something that’ll make listeners cringe upon hearing.
Overall, ROCKNROLL MACHINE is different compared to past Turbonegro albums, as it is much poppier and even electronic, but the songwriting style still remains the same. They channel the hair metal and ‘80s classic rock influence that feels like a major part of this whole project, but the lyrics fail where the instrumentals are mediocre at best.