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“I’m Your Turbo Lover, and I come From Poland” - 91%

bayern, February 18th, 2017

Yes, we all know, and probably love to bits, this immortal Judas Priest hit which must have been created once the British legends had been exposed, and consequently enchanted, to “Kawaleria Szatana”, the Poles’ third effort released around the same time as the “Turbo” album. Kidding of course, but this outfit by all means deserve a similar, or even better, ode for their efforts which date back from 1980 thus making them the oldest Polish metal formation, and one of the oldest in the world for that matter. Seriously, before them there were only the Big Five (Scorpions, Accept, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden), and these “noisemongers” from the Isles again Motorhead and Venom.

So these “turbo lovers” started their career inspired by the exploits of the mentioned Big Five, and released two albums in 1982 and 1985 of brisk classic heavy metal. In the mid-80’s the scene was moving towards more aggressive ways of expression, and the band didn’t remain indifferent to these metamorphoses striking with the excellent “Kawaleria Szatana” (1986), already mentioned earlier, which was a worthy initiation into the up-and-coming speed/thrash metal wave. A year later the guys were ready with their next instalment, “Ostatni Wojownik”, which had an English version released (“The Last warrior”) a year later. Whatever language the band were singing in, it didn’t affect their musical skills which pretty much hit the top on this roller-coaster of an elaborate speed/thrash which many consider their finest hour.

Two years later the line-up was enriched with the arrival of Robert Friedrich, an axeman who gave a big push to the already dazzling fretwork. If the guys already showed their penchant for more complex music, on the album reviewed here this tendency reached a culmination which placed the band right beside wizards like Mekong Delta, Target, Coroner and Realm. In other words, the technical/progressive thrash epidemic had spread over Poland, too, and Turbo had no second thoughts before succumbing to this appetizing trend. They were well equipped to join this cohort like they showed on the preceding opus, and with Friedrich lined up for the “damage”, there was nothing stopping them…

The opener “Salvator Mundi” unleashes a catchy melodic hook sounding like the most logical follow-up to “The Last Warrior”, but things change way before this frolic feel becomes dominant with the twisted fast-paced sweeps which circle around the shouty chorus alongside the blazing virtuous leads and the prominent bassisms. A more than promising beginning without overdoing it in the progressive/technical department; followed by “AIDS” which unleashes some quirky atonal riffage as “hors d’oeuvre” before the guys start thrashing with force, their blitzkrieg exploits intercepted by great lead sections again, and the stylish funky technicality in the second half. “Ocean Lez” produces quirky speedy crescendos from the get-go the band changing the times and the tempos in the most dexterous manner imaginable without slowing down; surreal riff-patterns occupy the middle stifled by the omnipresent leads, before the puzzling guitar acrobatics wrap it on. “Petla Czasu” shreds in various paces, “a battle” won by the faster side which shines even in the midst of the intricate progressive build-ups that appear at some stage only to be overwritten by the dazzling leads.

“Szalony Swiat” lets loose creepy atonal, dissonant riffs which gradually turn to more aggressive strokes those smelling proto-death a bit; slower stomping sections appear mid-way as well as a short jazzy sketch. “J.Ewa” is a frolic technicaller with jumpy guitars and weird illogical time-changes which alternation may lead to some serious hallucinations, a situation improved by the more linear lead passages. “Rozkosz I Bol” is a brooding amorphous shredder which mystical mid-tempo transfers to more dynamic riffage at some stage, but expect a lengthy balladic interlude superseded by an intricate “bass vs. riffs” duel. “Gniazdo Smutki” is a diverse progressiver which shifts the pace at will the hard thrashing intercepted by pounding volcanic cuts and some imposing atmospherics in the second half which give way to the next in line portion of stylish technical mosh and the exiting slab of brilliant leads which also dominate on the closing instrumental “12-1988”.

The guys produced the first genuine technical thrash metal album from the Eastern Bloc putting post-communist metal firmly on the metal map, also showing that the practitioners from the other side of the Iron Curtain were not sleeping, but were fully aware of the trends on the scene, and were only too prepared to apply them in the finest manner imaginable. This “Epidemic” unleashed a wave of creativity which brought some of the finest works of technical/progressive thrash metal in music history. The very next year Wolf Spider, who had already hit the scene with a self-titled in 1987, came out with “Kingdom of Paranoia”, another nod to the Mekong Delta and Living Death heritage. 1990 also saw the arrival of arguably the finest representative of the style from the country, Astharoth, with the masterpiece “Gloomy Experiments”. A year later Dragon put technical death metal on the Polish menu with the superb “Scream of Death”; and in 1992 the obscures Acrimony produced the surrealist wonder “Into the Unknown” which rendered the veterans Kat’s only venture into the progressive “Bastards”, also released the same year, a not very pressing afterthought.

So how did Turbo fare against this impressive horde? Well, they were ready with an immediate follow-up, “Dead End”, which appeared a few months later seeing them epitomizing a more conventional, more aggressive approach with echoes of Invocator’s “Excursion Demise” and Gammacide’s “Victims of Science”. It was by no means a disappointment, but wasn’t exactly a match to the innovative, visionary style of “Epidemie”,. Then Friedrich left to concentrate on his own “child” Acid Drinkers, but rejoined his comrades for the production of “Purify Your Soul” (1991) under the name Creation of Death which had a more death metal-fixated sound; nothing flashy or complex about it either. It was just a one-album-spell as the Turbo team regrouped for the release of “One Way” (1992), another decent nod to the death/thrash hybridization fraternity.

It seemed as though the band were looking to become a full-fledged death metal act which was going to suit them perhaps having in mind the good quality of the past three albums. Nothing of the kind occurred, for better or worse; the guys took a low profile which was the right choice probably, considering the turbo... sorry, turbulent for metal years. They kept releasing compilations on irregular bases all the way to 2001 when they put their comeback opus “Awatar” on the market. This album saw them returning to their classic heavy metal roots without any hints at thrash or death metal. Three more efforts followed, pretty much in the same vein, and as of now the guys don’t seem like they’re going to start death/thrashing with an inordinate amount of technicality any time soon. I guess most of the “turbo” they had in abundance in the distant past must have run out; it’s time to recharge:

so this old Judas Priest hit goes like that…