Released: Apr 6, 2015
Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner Rock, Garage Rock
Number Of Tracks: 11
Four years since their substantial debut album, Turbowolf come back with an even stronger follow-up album, "Two Hands."
Two HandsFeatured review by: UG Team, on april 20, 2015 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Being a UK rock band in the 21st century usually conjures knee-jerk assumptions that said band must be touting an indie rock sound, whether via the formerly-thriving post-punk revival, emulating the iconic alt-rock sound of The Smiths, or attempting to mirror the hyper-artsy demeanors of the country's current champion bands like Radiohead and Coldplay. Bristol's Turbowolf, on the other hand, abstracted themselves from the echo chamber around them. Sculpting their sound with the classic rock & psychedelic era in mind (similarly as Australia's Wolfmother), their heavyweight guitar sound definitely contrasts the welterweight sheen of their peers. Take that sound and drive in the gear of '80s-era punk, and the band got the result of a pretty substantial self-titled debut album.
But after catching some buzz with the release of their debut album in 2011, Turbowolf didn't ride the wave of momentum right back into the studio to promptly record a follow-up record. Similarly to how their debut album gestated, Turbowolf took a lot of time (and performing) to develop their follow-up album, "Two Hands," in the interest of incubating fresh ideas for the record. At face value, the sonic ingredients that make up this album aren't much different from their first album - songs like "Nine Lives," the punky "Invisible Hand," the stomping "Rabbit's Foot" and the swingy "Good Hand" are the most straightforward in terms of retro rock emulation - and while the first-gen heavy metal guitars and bass are still the keystone to Turbowolf, there's an improvement in their instrumental skill across the board, as indicated in the triplet fret action in the bridge of "Good Hand" and the fast hammer-on riffs in the beginning and end of "Solid Gold."
Along with the instrumental skill, Turbowolf have been getting more adept and ambitious in their songwriting. Whereas their debut album showed some elementary experimentation via progressive rock influence, taking form in little one-off interlude tracks in between by-the-book rockers as well as frontman Chris Georgiadis' early Yes-style keyboard lines, "Two Hands" show some more appeals to a progressive rock mentality in terms of elaboration. The frenetic punk rocker "American Mirrors" travels like a standard Turbowolf song, but then takes a sharp turn into psychedelia, where a buzzy keyboard line and piercing lead guitar dance atop drummer Blake Davies' wicked breakbeat. "Rich Gift" also switches gears numerous times, going from Black Sabbath-style midtempo, to uptempo punk, to a Rush-esque interlude that changes the measurement, and ending with a lone guitar tapping section. The progressive inspiration also musters up a sonic motif that opens the album in "Invisible Hand" and then reprises in the ending riff of the final track "Pale Horse"; much more rudimentary than "The Downward Spiral" motif, sure, but watching Turbowolf opt to connect seams in this sense shows promise for what prog-influenced compositions they'll make the next time around. // 8
Lyrics: With their debut album, Georgiadis' lyrics were terse, abstract, rooted in the classic metal aesthetic of mythological subjects, and considerably grim (e.g. "Let's Die," "Seven Severed Heads" and "Bag O' Bones"). In "Two Hands," however, Georgiadis has started to get more in-depth, clear, and positive with his messages. He stresses the importance of diligence in "Good Hand" ("No pain, no gain / That's the mantra I'm appealing"), the benefit of self-fulfillment in "Pale Horse" ("Find yourself, if only for yourself / A gift that always gives, stays with you"), and making sure to live life to the fullest in "Nine Lives" ("When you're speaking of your life, does it roll off the tongue?"). Georgiadis also tries weaning off the mythological themes, or at the very least, eases back on them - though he still sings about holding hands with a Medusa in "Rich Gift" and pines for voodoo to grant him some better luck in "Rabbit's Foot," he states his resolution to be less concerned with the addiction to myths in "Solid Gold" ("It's time we move on and leave behind / This superstitious mind"), which rings strong as a message beyond Georgiadis' desire to change up his writing style. // 8
Overall Impression: "Two Hands" hits every target it needs to for a follow-up album. It continues to groom Turbowolf's starter qualities that were first lauded in their debut album, and properly improves them via better instrumental skill. It also shows healthy growth, with more variance in sonic tricks and elaboration in songwriting, but also leaves room for more growth to be experienced and enjoyed for a future record. The direction in which "Two Hands" grows hints towards a full-on progressive rock record the next time Turbowolf get in the studio - something with a whole-hog concept, both lyrically and musically. Regardless, a third Turbowolf record would be much anticipated if it can rock out just as substantially as "Two Hands" does - just hope that it doesn't have to take another four years for it to arrive. // 8
TOMMYGULLY2012, on april 21, 2015 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: After four years of waiting, the sound of Turbowolf was bound to change. This is only highly noticeable in the vocals as they sound more clean and less shouty in this new LP. I would say this matches the less thrashy sound of this record, but those gritty vocals not making a presence on the album may leave fans of the first album disappointed. There is an exception of this however, when Pulled Apart By Horses singer Tom Hudson makes a grand appearance in the track "Good Hand" giving some fantastic singing in the background, which is what really makes that track a stand-out on the record.
As for the guitar, the sound has clear only got better throughout the years they took on making the record, as this dirty, fuzzy mess of noisy beauty screams into your ears. I can't recall a band with such an original guitar tone like Turbowolf have which will make you recognise the artist straight away. The more recent members of the band (Blake Davies on drums, and Lianna Lee Davies on bass) fit in like a charm, with Lianna providing good backup vocals for the live performances of their songs. Back to the singer Chris Georgiadis, he also plays synthesiser in the band, which appear to take a much greater role in this record than the last. This is a nice addition to their sound, and works fantastically in songs like "Rabbits Foot" and "Pale Horse," however it seems overused in tracks like "Rich Gift" and it feels like it is a bit too much for a song that nearly reaches 7 minutes.
In the start of the first track "Invisible Hand" and the end of the last track "Pale Horse," a catchy riff repeats on a more crunchy tone from guitarist Andy Ghosh. This riff really added much more power to the intro and outro of the record as the link between the beginning and end of the album makes the album feel like it really came to a close after the slightly short 39 minutes the album goes on for. However, it is really effective and stood out to me as a key point of the record, and makes me consider "Pale Horse" one of the best endings of an album in recent years when compared to the first track of "Two Hands."
"Invisible Hand" is very similar to the track "Introduction" on their self-titled, and carries on its legacy fantastically. This is especially shown in the last riff of the track which to me should definitely go down as a classic Turbowolf riff in the future. From this comes the first single of the record "Rabbits Foot," a head-bobbing, funky track that got a lot of airplay on Radio 1. It becomes one of the best tracks on the album through its perfect balance of harsh beats and synth parts, and is one of those tracks that truly define who Turbowolf are.
"Solid Gold" is a strange turn for the band, with the sampling of tribal communities chanting to a fast arpeggio guitar riff as an intro, then to a heavy riff in the verse. The long intro is worth its length as it builds up to the verse, and the rest of the song does not disappoint. "American Mirrors" shows off the frantic beats of the band, but the synth orientated bridge feels disappointingly empty to me. Following this is the near-minute long filler "Toy Memaha," which leads up to the third single "Nine Lives" convincingly. This catchy track also got its deserved airtime on BBC Radio 1, and comes off as a single very well, and is a good finisher to the A side of the album for any of those who were cool enough to get the gold vinyl during pre-order.
Next comes the previously mentioned track "Good Hand," which has a great feel to it alongside one quarter of Pulled Apart By Horses. All I can give is praise to this amazing track, and the track that follows is a chilled track ("MK Ultra") that can relieve you of the insane greatness of "Good Hand." "MK Ultra" comes off as a weird one on the album, however its short length makes the track not too much of a bad track on the album, and more of a reliever from the other songs on the album.
"Twelve Houses" begins with "Graham Hancock," a writer who is heavily influenced by the same lyrical and visual themes that Turbowolf cover, giving a quick voiceover before huge guitars play a heavy riff that shares characteristics of the debut album of theirs. This song is very well constructed and could've easily fit on their first album. "Rich Gift" follows, and may leave a bad taste on fans' mouths before the finisher of the album. The length of the song isn't an issue, in fact when I listened to it, it felt a lot shorter, possibly due to the crazy amount of ideas they have crammed into the track. This isn't necessarily a terrible issue, but the overuse of synthesiser may make this a not very good thing.
The album finishes with "Pale Horse," a very Sabbath-esque track that nails all the qualities of a Turbowolf song, and any ending to a great record. Ending with that great repetitive "Two Hands" riff, "Pale Horse" becomes an instant classic for all Turbowolf fans. The sound on the album only has a couple of down points, but sadly more than their debut. Ignoring this, if you can listen to a huge range of genres, from electronica to metal, the band is a fusion of all those genres, and if you can appreciate that, then this is the album for you. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics Chris Georgiadis supplies for the band have definitely improved since their debut. Some lyrics, like in "Good Hand," really stand out, like where he remarks, "No pain, no gain, no sun, no rain" and, "I feel something's telling me I should just give it up." In the fantastic ending that is "Pale Horse," he also says, "If you fall down you dust it off" and, "It's just a matter of time before you notice that all that makes us turns to gold."
These are all just examples of the great lyrics he has put into the tracks, and the catchiness of the "Rabbits Foot" vocals ("I need some kinda voodoo, I need some kinda love") really stands out on the album. Unlike the debut, more lyrics seem to stick inside my head on the record, and for that reason I'll rate the lyrics highly. // 9
Overall Impression: Turbowolf's long awaited follow-up album shows how they have progressed after four years to produce an album that may not match the thrashiness of their debut, but takes the listener on a journey that will leave you craving for more. Chris nails the lyrics on the record and the fuzz on the guitar tone reaches classic Sabbath standards in tracks like "Pale Horse" and "Twelve Houses." Without a doubt, Turbowolf have changed, maybe not necessarily for the better in the eyes of some, but to me, they still have their charm, no matter what form they display it in. // 8