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Judas Priest - "Turbo, 1986 (re-release)"
2002 2000

This is an album, hardly acceptable by ordinary Judas Priest fan. Till 1986 musical industry already crafted a thousands of different types of synthesizers with all those special extra magical devices and shining buttons. While musicians in pop rock like pop stars Duran Duran or Michael Jackson handled those magic toys with supremacy, heavy metal bands were just about to integrate synthetic sounds into their established metal standards. So in the mid eighties heavy metal bands began to learn how to use synthesizers. They got an opportunity to play guitar like synthesizer.

Can you imagine a fan in '86 who hardly awaits for new album to arrive in music stores. He runs for vinyl on its releasing date, than hurry back home to put the album on gramophone. He is dying from all his expectations, that he will hear another "Defenders Of The Faith" (1984) or "Screaming For Vengeance" (1982) and hoping, that Judas Priest served on a new record even more damaging heavy metal sound. He went sick after few tunes of "sweet" opening Turbo Lover.

This album is not bad at all. Problem is that fans never gave it a chance, because it differs in sound and style so much, that fans weren't able to accept this new "priestvention". Quality deviation from standards of previous record was to shocking for them. Well, Judas Priest didn't change only their music "a bit", they also changed their image. Their black leather disappeared. Instead of that, they've put on leathers of brighter colors. Also hair style was taking a curve in pompous glam directions. Poetry of apocalyptical vision had also been changed. At those times it seemed that love troubled Rob Halford at most.

Fans were already smelling something wicked is coming up from Priest when two singles "sweet little sugar" Turbo Lover and ultra light rock'n roller Parental Guidance had been released prior to new studio album.

Turbo Lover opens the album with giant colonization of U.F.O.s on planet Earth. Band fires a lot of synthetic sounds through guitar playing right from the start. In center position is rhythm drive and of course Rob as usual, delivering his strong emotions via his highly convincible soulful expression. Distorted sounds are used as ornaments with few blasts now and then in chorus, while band delivers diverse "new aged" sounds that dominate the song.

Sound is more polished that on "Defenders Of The Faith" album. All instruments are divided clearer and contrasts between them even brighter. Drums are pounding forcefully by carrying great depth in sound and this widens overall sound picture. Well, drums were lethal already on "Defenders Of the Faith", but new production brought even more contrast and power. We must not be 100% sure about that. If we take a quick look over "Turbo" riffing, which lost much of its usual power and raw aggressive face this results in effect, which automatically focuses the listener on drumming which steps in center point of entire "Turbo" sound. In the same vein Halford's blistering vocal also becomes pivotal in overall sound and therefore serves as a fantastic and very expressive counter point to thunderous rhythm section.

Atmosphere begins to graduate with intensity especially in second half. Moment of strong shivering atmosphere is undoubtedly caught inside sixth song, a passionate drama of mid tempo drive called Out In The Cold. Basically it is great song, one of the epic highlights of a record, full of strong passion, sadness and love feelings, with bombastic glam sound of a drums through entire song. Highlight has been laid down in the middle instrumental section, where K.K. and Glenn delivered another fantastic lesson of their guitar wizardry. What bothers is long intro played through guitar synthesizers. Sound that was used here is not quite appropriate. First what listener might thought for himself is fact that K.K. and Glenn probably weren't skilled enough to deal with all those new devices that produced synthetic guitar sound. But on the other hand we could assume that music ideas of both guys were light years ahead of what musical industry offered at that time. It is very hard to stand strong behind the statement that synthesizer devices on "Turbo" were used on a best possible way. Especially when having in mind that Iron Maiden launched during the same year one of the best albums in heavy metal ("Somewhere In Time", 1986), and funnily enough, another record full of guitar synthesizers.

Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days brings as a follower to Out Of The Cold great dynamic contrast because if Out Of The Cold sounded very sad, cold and black, Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days captures strong positive light vibes, where Rob changes his subtler approach from previous song for huge amount of hedonism. Another strong atmospheric mood is delivered through pre-chorus of Hot For Love, starting with verse "Nowhere to run...", but with an absolute atmospheric and melodic highlight once again in remarkable instrumental middle section driven through another magnificent guitar soloing crossfire. A masterpiece done with pure feel. Finalizing detonator Reckless maintains strong ambient climax on a constant high shivering level and represents fantastic choice to close the album on a dynamic way, that we were used to get from Priest's.

"Turbo" offers two classic heavy metal strikers Locked In and Reckless. Other songs such as Parental Guidance, Private Property or Rock You All Around The World capture softer hard rockin' feel, which is expressed even more because of twisted and softened guitar sound via used synthesizers. Solos on entire record are once again fantastic and crafted very much in the spirit of band's next studio record "Ram It Down" (1988).

First bonus is speedier metallic lesson All Fired Up, which does not contains any synthetic cosmetics and already reflects what is to come from Priest on next studio record. Main riff is very familiar to that one in song Ram It Down. Addition of this bonus track brings nice contrast and rises the dynamics of a record, which is merely consisted from mid-tempo songs. Second bonus track is live version of Locked In. Another band's on stage fantasy!

K.K. and Glenn were experiencing the magic of "the unknown" and this resulted in album with the largest amount of musical experiments through entire Judas Priest history. It would be of great mistake if we look on this album as a strict commercial move. It reflects courage and sincere birth of new creative ideas from band member's of that era. A reflection of band evolutionary stage caught on tape in 1986. Is "Turbo" therefore an interesting hybrid between pop rock and heavy metal? Far from that. Sad but true fact is that this, more than obvious sound deviation made by a band, was heavily sensationalized via media (all sort of "spicy" articles in music magazine's,...). And this strongly influenced on people's minds. Fans were merely fully disappointed. They were thrilled over new album. But in this very special case, if your minds are not too heavy loaded with word "classic" Judas Priest, you'll be highly awarded, because "Turbo" is an excellent album.

Author:   Aleš

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