December is a brutal month for us lowly reviewers. Between unreasonable demands for End of Year lists from our monstrous editors to unreasonable Christmas wish lists from our equally monstrous children, we get yanked in every direction. To make matters worse, all the good bands have finished issuing their albums and we’re left sifting through the muck and the mire, desperately trying to find something that will boost our average review scores. Sadly, we almost never find those hidden gems. However, I was pretty sure I lucked out when I saw Turbo Shokk in the December cesspool. With a name like that, and an album called Get Radical featuring a pair of comely lips, how could I go wrong?
Well, if it wasn’t for editorial requirements this would be an incredibly short review: look at the promo pic below. Get Radical is no better than that. But I am required by ancient law to give you, our Faithful Readers, details and justifications pertaining to that opinion. So let’s get this over with. Press releases, band name, song titles, album cover, secretive band member identities, and, yes, one of the worst promo shots ever, all point to Turbo Shokk being another hair metal parody band a la Steel Panther. Not everyone is a fan of Steel Panther, but when taken in small doses they are actually a competently funny band. Why? Because they can sing, they can play their instruments, the music is well produced, and the lyrics (on the songs that work, like “It Won’t Suck Itself”) are cute. Those are all factors required to pull off something as polarizing as a parody band.
Turbo Shokk possesses almost none of those qualities. “Put the Hammer Down” is the opening track, and there’s really no hammer present at all. The riff is middling as is the production, and when singer (and I use that term loosely) Stack Manley comes in with his out of tune “woaaaah, yeah!” the album immediately becomes an embarrassment. Honestly, Manley has to be the worst singer of the year [Excellent name though…. – Steel Druhm]. Nowhere on the entire record does he even come close to an average performance. Each song is an example of vocal inadequacy. At times the riffs and hooks are interesting, such as on “Strip Sin City” and “Powersmasher,” but the fact that Manley sings on every song extinguishes these small glimmers of hope. The rhythm section is competent but completely lacks feel or creativity. And the arrangements are laughable, with brutal 80s keyboards leaping out of the speakers at odd times, or a cowbell suddenly blasting through the mix. I love me a good cowbell, but “Get It Up” almost ruined the instrument for me.
While Get Radical as an entire entity is cringe-worthy, if broken apart and examined at a more granular level there are signs of hope. Well, one sign of hope. The guitar solos are actually decent throughout the album. Razor O’Shea is the alias of the guitarist, and he shows some decent imagination and – wait, what? He doesn’t actually play the solos? Some guy named Hedras Ramos does? For fuck’s sake! Well, Ramos is a pretty good guitar player, but the fact that Turbo Shokk is too shitty to even do their own solos is hilarious. I had originally donated half a point to the rating due to decent guitar work, but I now rescind that point, with extreme prejudice. I hope Ramos doesn’t actually get sucked into any live gigs.
Records this bad give bands everywhere hope that they, too, can be signed. I’m not sure what the real identities are behind these three clowns, but my guess is that judging from the brutal quality of Get Radical, they’ll be too embarrassed to ever let the world know they were responsible for this travesty. The only thing Turbo Shokk succeeded in doing with this album is landing in my Bottom 5 for 2016. Way to go, guys.