Apocalypse Dudes + Ass Cobra
Everyone’s got their favorite Turbonegro anecdote. Mine happens to be from an article I read in Metal Maniacs a few years back wherein the boys played at one of those European metal festivals with a passel of black metal bands. Besides the uniform of sailor suits, Turbonegro distinguished themselves that day with their heartfelt plea to their brothers in face paint, “Dudes, don’t burn those churches down.” Fucking awesome….
One of the most fascinating things about Apocalypse Dudes, besides the utterly raw catchiness of nearly every single fucking riff (we’re talking the kind of addictive subconscious primitivism that Marc Bolan’s T. Rex has hitherto been the sole master of, bang a fucking gong indeed), is that MTV has apparently taken the record apart piece by piece and embedded every fucking note into their programming at one point or another! Now that’s satanic. So you’ve got “The Age of Pamparius,” about one of the members’ pizza restaurant, set around the catchiest Who-meets-Judas Priest riffery that you could (n)ever hope for. “Get It On” is probably the Rolls Royce Phantom of glam-metal songs, clockwork teenage kicks. “Rock Against Ass” renders the sugary sweet choruses of, say, Weezer totally obsolete with one fell swoop and a few arch lines about “ass.” “Rendeavous With Anus” basically turns the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” into a leatherboy anthem, somehow making it even tougher and more dangerous in the process. “Prince of the Rodeo” confuses everyone with its mix of Motorhead, first wave OC punk and way too sincere lyrics about… about… hey how about that drum breakdown in the middle? “Back To Dungaree High” kills me with its cheesy vocal echo effects and Runaways-as-rent-boys aesthetic. You knew it had to come sooner or later, and “Humiliation Street” is Turbonegro’s twin homage to Iggy’s “The Passenger” and that eighties metal chestnut, the power-ballad. And they do it up with a cod-classical beginning, an epic interminable guitar solo and a fifty-foot high chorus, which is, naturally, a croon of “humiliation street” over and over. “Good Head” is just decadence turned up to 11 and a fitting closer.
The equally seminal Ass Cobra is a little more punk, with less of the pop polish and glam flourish of Apocalypse Dudes; it’s more raw and gritty and hard-edged. Total Chaos, Circle Jerks, Stranglers, Social Distortion and Black Flag are the more obvious touchstones here. Think of the transition from the Southern Death Cult to The Cult, and you’ll get the picture. But backwards, damn. The songs may be shorter and more brutal, but the wicked wit remains unscathed, witness “Midnight NAMBLA,” a warp speed screamer with a bridge consisting of a little kid crying and some majorly fucked lyrics. A Germs-meets-Integrity rave-up like “Deathtime” is much more indicative of the spirit of Ass Cobra. “Denim Demon” spurts forth like a sodomite Misfits. Great stuff. “Bad Mongo” is slower and heavier, more akin to vicious doompunk hybrids like Buzzoven. “Just Flesh” kicks off with a little telephone in-joke directed towards Steve Ignorant of Crass, and matters are hardly redeemed with sadomasochistic ugliness a la Poison Idea. “Hobbit Motherfuckers” assumes a cod German accent with strident punk backing and turns razor sharp disgust on every aspect of the counterculture. “Sailor Man” is verrrry close to GWAR territory, but sounds a little better. With the final three numbers, Turbonegro pull out the trifecta kamikaze of hate and try to take out all their friends and enemies out once. “Turbonegro Hate the Kids,” “Imorgen Skal Eg Daue,” and “Raggare Is A Bunch Of Motherfuckers” leave no one unscathed in a torrent of scratchy guitar and bad intentions.
It’s a true testament to their abilities that they can keep such sugary sweet pop hooks and rock licks so back-alley dangerous and transgressive without turning into one-note jokes like GWAR. Let’s hope they can keep up this oh so delicate balancing act. Think T. Rex, think Poison, think Iggy and the Stooges, think Firesign Theatre, think Phil Hendrie, think Accept….. then stop thinking and start headbanging, because this is so ridiculously over the top and wonderful that it’s the only option left anymore.