Record Review - 1 March 12 2003

Violently strangling guitars in vaguely homoerotic rites of audio auto-asphyxiation, the members of Oslo, Norway's Turbonegro burst out of Scandinavia (while almost bursting out of their pants) in a mascara-smeared maelstrom caught between cock-rock and a hard place.

Well, "burst" may be a bit of an exaggeration. Recording four albums in 10 years, Turbonegro was an underground legend on these shores when the group broke up in 1998, even inspiring a tribute album featuring Queens of the Stone Age, the Supersuckers, Therapy? and more.

But as the world spoke of a Swede invasion in 2002, little did anyone know that it was merely a warmup for the return of the main act. In anticipation of the April release of Scandinavian Leather, the new full-length from the reunited Turbonegro, Epitaph/Burning Heart Records has reissued the band's most substantial works, 1996's Ass Cobra and 1998's Apocalypse Dudes. Both discs document Turbonegro's developing "deathpunk" sound from a style influenced by black metal to one transformed as if by black magic — or at least slick studio techniques.

Ass Cobra picks up the malevolent mono-lithic sound passed down by the Sonics, mixing it with the Alice Cooper Group's highly theatrical shock rock and Judas Priest's blistering ambiguities. For Apocalypse Dudes, Turbonegro turned from taut thrash to full-throttle stadium rock, lining up at the stage lip and bobbing instruments in unison to the beat passed from Grand Funk Railroad and Spinal Tap to the Hellacopters and Backyard Babies.

Turbonegro performs at the Echo Lounge Sun., March 16.