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After releasing two of not only their best albums, but two of the best metal albums of all time (Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith), Judas Priest went all in. Instead of playing it safe and releasing another similar album, pleasing the fans with maybe some minor complaints of being a little repetitive, the band decided to experiment with their next album Turbo. Originally meant to be a double album with material from Ram it Down and be known as Twin Turbos, only the first nine songs made the cut. And thus, Judas Priest's most controversial album was born. Adding in elements of synth and pop characteristics of the then-rising genre of hair metal, the band no doubt incited massive backlash from their legions of fans who longed for the days of Breaking the Law and You've Got Another Thing Comin'. But what many fans to realize is, behind the new bells and whistles and glossy coat of paint, it's still Judas Priest and Turbo is still a a pretty good album.
The main change of this album is the presence of more electronic keyboard/synth elements, often times used to distort the guitars and give them a more computerized and electric feel. But no, Glenn Tipton and K.K, Downing's superb guitarwork is not "corrupted." On the contrary. Not only do the riffs have a cool cyber feel to them, they still deliver shredding guitar solos on nearly every track. And while there are certainly more pop and "feel-good" elements in the songs' melodies and choruses reminiscent of hair and glam metal, vocalist Rob Halford has never missed a step, and this album is no exception. While not shrieking quite as high as he did on songs such as Screaming for Vengeance or Freewheel Burning, more times than not Halford is singing in the higher registers while still utilizing his famous baritone. And while pop influences mean the lyrics aren't quite as rebellious or in-your-face as Judas Priest is known for, there's still plenty of songs based on love, sex, and rock n' roll. Turbo Lover gives you the feeling of actually speeding down the road and launching into outer space with its electronic and synth sound effects and intense build-up (coupled with lyrics consisting of hilariously cheesy double entendres). Private Property is medium-paced but has one heck of a catchy chorus, and Rock You All Around the World is fast and fun. Out in the Cold is an interesting power ballad that starts off soft and builds up in intensity and heaviness, and Reckless is an extremely solid rocker.
While many of the songs on Turbo utilize synth sound effects and have a lighter pop feel, this is still by and large a Judas Priest album. Rob Halford is still singing, Downing and Tipton are still shredding, and Turbo is still metal. Just because a band like Judas Priest was willing to change and experiment, that does not mean they completely forgot who they were. Diehard fans will still most likely be polarized, but if you've never listened to the album, don't listen to everything you hear. Give it a listen, you might be surprised to find it's still a Judas Priest. And a pretty underrated one at that.