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Many “fans” of Judas Priest would want you to believe that this is the band’s worst album. They might say that this is where the mighty gods of heavy metal sold out to appeal to the masses. It’s not that these accusations are completely unfounded, but they cause many people to ignore this underrated album, which really deserves more respect than it gets.
First of all, I would start by pointing out that this album isn’t so much a sell out as it is experimental. Just compare Turbo to an album like British Steel, and it is clear that the former has much more intricate song structures and solos for the most part. It is obvious that the band spent more time on this album than some of their previous ones, as it is all very focused.
The lead off track, Turbo Lover, is undoubtedly the masterpiece of the album, and a lost classic in the priest catalogue. The melding of the synths, guitar, and Halford’s robotic vocals give this song a unique feel that may be hard to appreciate for the average metal head. It is a very simple song, but the way it is constructed is mind blowing and the solo is one of the catchiest ever forged by Mr. Tipton.
The next song, Locked In, is much more in the vein of the classic Priest that we all know and love, with great inventive riffing and soaring vocals. The three songs that follow it are really the first signs of hair metal here, but the strength of the riffs, melodies, and as always, the solos, are enough to make them worth while in face of the rather lame lyrics and the vapid “happy” feeling which doesn’t really suit Priest. It is important to note that while these songs are indeed accessible, they still have much more substance than stuff like Pain and Pleasure and United, both of which are from some of Priest’s allegedly “best” albums.
Up next is the ballad of the album, Out in the Cold. This is another song that makes great use of synthesizers. Other than that, it isn’t really that spectacular besides the fact that it doesn’t suck like every other hair metal power ballad. In fact, to me this song sounds more like a modern power metal ballad like something Sonata Arctica would write.
The three closing songs are again in the vein of classic priest, with Hot for Love and Reckless standing out in particular with great leads and awesome dark riffs on the former. Wild Nights, Hot Crazy Days isn’t really as good as the rest of the material, and has a kind of annoying AC/DC sound that I don’t like.
In conclusion, Turbo really deserves more respect than it gets, as it contains some very classic Priest songs and it is a lot more enjoyable and fresh than the simplistic British Steel. If you consider yourself a fan of Judas Priest, more specifically the Screaming – Defenders era of the band, do yourself a favor and pick up this great underrated album and listen to it with an open mind.