Scandanavian Leather


Epitaph Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow


Under dramatic circumstances the ship known as Turbonegro seemingly sunk one fateful night in 1998 when its captain, Hank von Helvete (vocals) was admitted to a psychiatric ward after a gig in Milan, Italy. With the strength of their album at that time, Apocalypse Dudes (reviewed on this website on 04/04/2003), coupling with the band's mysterious disappearance, all the ingredients for an underground Turbonegro legacy were mixed over the years to make the band one of today's most intriguing underground punk acts. For testimony to this, listen to Nicholaus Arson of the Hives declaring that "something as great as Turbonegro happens only once every century."

With Hank's demons apparently put to rest in the summer of 2002, the Apocalypse Dudes lineup were enticed to not only reform at three major festivals including the Bizarre (Germany) and Quart (Norway) Festivals, but to headline them. Without missing a beat, the band enjoyed a rebirth rarely seen as their over-the-top performances led to a scramble by labels to sign them for their first studio album in five years culminating with today's release, Scandinavian Leather.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Without a doubt, Turbonegro surely faced a daunting task in dusting off those years of dust in determining the formula for Scandinavian Leather. Upon first listen, it is very obvious that the album is created from the very same mold as its predecessor with the intro, "The Blizzard of Flames," mirroring the same prog-rock acoustic concept as the introduction to Apocalypse Dudes' opening track, "The Age of Pamparius."

Musically, the album stays the course in making this comparative claim with the same punk n' roll format that catapulted the band into underground stardom. Tracks such as "Sell Your Body (to the Night)" and "Fuck the World" are the anthems in which the foundations of Scandinavian Leather have been built. "Sell Your Body (to the Night)" features lead guitarist Knut Schreiner scorching his solos in his traditional breakneck fashion, most notably in the last half of the song. If Schreiner's coming-out party as being a true guitar virtuoso was defined by the legendary lead riff performed on Apocalypse Dudes' "Prince of the Rodeo," his effort here is nearly as memorable. The story has it that Schreiner was given the band's lead guitar role after filling in for former lead-turned-keyboardist Pal Pot Pamparius when Pamparius himself couldn't actually duplicate the riff.

"Train of Flesh" has the same catchy and bouncing guitar style that's found on the Apocalypse Dudes song, "Zillion Dollar Sadist." Otherwise, the song pales in comparison, as the lyrical delivery doesn't pack the same punch. Actually, it's hard to not make similar statements about most of the tracks on this album. If you take my word that the formula for Scandinavian Leather has been determined to mirror Apocalypse Dudes, this album seemingly takes on the added water ingredient. The ingredient turns the songs"Locked Down" and "Drenched in Blood" into forgettable punk-pop tracks with no defining edges of their own.

Surely, music fans of today will be given sufficient opportunity to witness Turbonegro's renaissance considering the fact that MTV's Jackass crew has already collaborated with the band to shoot a video for the upcoming single, "Sell Your Body (to the Night)." This is an opportunity that should be embraced and not scorned as I'll be the first to admit in arguing Turbonegro's high water mark has been elevated to possibly insurmountable heights with Apocalypse Dudes.

Rarely do the circumstances regarding reunion albums center on dramatic plots. Turbonegro's current revival culminating with Scandinavian Leather defies that claim and will surely take the band to a level of worldwide awareness greater than it has currently experienced.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epitaph Records, and is used for informational purposes only.