Bands nowadays fall into 2 categories- either they’re undeground kvlt extreme metal bands, or they’re the commercial metal playing arena rockers. There’s a misconception that the heavier your sound is, the less likely it is that the band become famous. Conversely, if you aren’t heavy, you may be able to earn more but you will never get the respect from fans or other bands. However, if there’s a band that could play both roles effectively, it’s Turbowolf.
First of all, how cool is that name? Ideally, that name should sound cheesy, but it doesn’t. The band released their second album, Two Hands, on 7 April 2015. Hailing from Bristol, UK, they sounds like a mix of System of a Down and Truckfighters. They have the same crazy and abrupt changes in tempo and atmosphere that SOAD is famous for and they combine it with a thick chunky stoner-esque guitar tone. The album also has punk, rock & roll and pschedelic influences. The album starts off with the song “Invisible Hand” which features a bass intro that sounds a lot like something Tool would play. It then breaks into a fast paced punk riff as the band transitions seamlessly between various styles, an indicator of things to come. Interestingly most of the songs have memorable intros full of weird guitar effects and strange choruses in the background. However, a fair few of them fail to turn the great intros into great songs.
My favorite song off the album has to be “American Mirrors.” Starting off with a video game boot-up sound, the song immediately breaks into a heavy riff punk riff. The chorus to the song is memorable and one of the few times that singer Chris Georgiadis makes full use of his impressive vocal range. It features what seems like a bass+sax interlude and ends with a barrage of heavy guitars playing the same punk riff from the start. And on the other hand, you have a song like “Nine Lives,” an indie rock song with their unique take on it. It’s not a great song on its own but goes on to show the diversity that the band, and especially Georgiadis, have on offer. He can scream, do indie style vocals and do soaring falsetto vocals. The only thing lacking is an ability to write catchy and memorable melodies as none of the vocal melodies (with the exception of “American Mirrors”) really gets stuck in your head like some of the guitar riffs do. The lyrics aren’t particularly great and the best thing that can be said about them is that they don’t detract from the songs.
Which leads us to guitarist Andy Ghosh. His work throuhgout the album is excellent and he uses both playing technique and tonal experimentation to bring the best out of his guitars. He uses lots of weird but somehow appropriate effects, like in the intro for “Rich Gift” and “MK Ultra.” The riffs are heavy and the guitar layers sound monster. Bassist Lianna Lee Davies follows suit and uses a lot of wierd effects. Both Davies and Ghosh well work in tandem and the bass gets it fair share of attention in the album. The mixing and production is top notch and all the instruments can be heard equally well as no one instrument overshadows the others.
However, the album is too short for my liking. Clocking at just over 38 minutes long, it has 11 songs out of which “Toy Memaha” is a 44 second long filler and most of the songs are under 3 minutes long. It feels like the band tried to put as much material they could into as less time as possible as most of the riffs are played just once. This is in turn leads to some songs sounding more like a collection of riffs rather than actual songs. This is a problem in songwriting and hopefully it should go away with time as the band gains more experience.
The album shows clear signs of progression from their first album. The album should please fans of the band and could also get the band some new ones. With an album full of thunderous riffs, chaotic transitions, punk energy and stoner heaviness, Two Hands is a great followup album by the band and sees the band make further progress.