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Cover Art

Turbonegro ( )

Scandinavian Leather
Epitaph ( http://www.epitaph.com @EpitaphRecs )
If you believe everything you read (I had the benefit of a bio from the label, but any sycophantic rock journalist’s ramblings will do), Turbonegro are now, as they have been for the last ten years, the great, underrated, overlooked rock band in the world. And now they’re back, with their best record ever that is a revelation to fans and the uninitiated alike about the power and glory of rock n’ roll. That is, if you believe everything you read. I heard the hype and because of it took this album on for review. With eager anticipation I placed the disk carefully into my CD player. This is the most polite way I can think of to say what I think of Scandinavian Leather: don’t believe the hype. What is contained on Turbonegro’s “latest, greatest� release is nothing more than earnest posturing coupled with a poorly executed, supposedly ironic commentary on the nature of both punk rock and metal. The fact that the band boasts unimpeachable authenticity (again, from their bio) has to be a joke. From start to finish, Scandinavian Leather produces slab after metallic slab of meticulously image-manipulated punk rock that has all the authenticity of Twisted Sister in their heyday but with none of the integrity (yes, really). The guitars grind and wail in true hair metal fashion while the rhythm section (Chris Summers on drums and Happy Tom on bass) alternately pound and dance around singer Hank von Helvete’s uniformly dumb and uninteresting lyrics (sample “coast to coast, nationwide/DNA on naugahyde� from “Train Of Flesh�) Turbonegro’s music would be fine if it was played straight faced, but you can almost hear the band members laughing all the way to the bank beneath the lukewarm assault. Instead of presenting themselves as having a semblance of sardonic wit or as being an elaborately conceived construct, Turbonegro choose instead to act like a parody; they are a caricature and as a result are neither funny nor believable as a creative force. The songs are presented in such a way that they aren’t funny because the band seems to be laughing at how clever they are for getting away with putting out this tripe. Songs like “Wipe It Till It Bleeds� and the self-advertising “Turbonegro Must Be Destroyed� should be proof enough of both the plasticity of the band’s approach and their blatant exploitation of a fan base that cares more about image than output. Therein lies Turbonegro’s strength: they are masters of image manipulation. By shamelessly exploiting hipsters and tastemakers into thinking that they were cool, Turbonegro in the process convinced the rest of the world by careful calculation. What becomes abundantly apparent after listening objectively to Scandinavian Leather is that only those who think that Poison’s catalogue is essential listening will find any value in it.

By Bill Adams
Mar 13, 2004

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