A few years ago, I was enthralled by a German band called Alpha Tiger, whose Man or Machine (2011) and Beneath the Surface (2013) albums were spectacular slabs of power/speed/traditional metal by a young band who had learned so much from the old masters. Alpha Tiger did many things right on these albums, but their most devastating weapon was the golden voice of Stephan Dietrich, a monumental talent who channeled the likes of John Arch, Michael Kiske and Rick Mythiasin, but with a flair and character all his own. Seriously, Dietrich was the best new singer I’d encountered in ages. Unfortunately, the magic of Alpha Tiger was short-lived. Coinciding with the release of the band’s tepid third album, iDentity, Dietrich parted ways with Alpha Tiger and was never heard from again. Until now.
Recently, I received a text from a friend containing a YouTube link to a new EP released by a band called Turbokill. I had never heard of them, but I clicked on the link anyway. As soon as the vocals kicked in, I knew instantly that it had to be Stephan Dietrich. No one else sounds like him. My heart racing with excitement, I ordered the four-song EP from the band’s website later that day. The EP is excellent. As a matter of general practice and policy, I only review full-length albums, but I’m making an exception here. You need to know about Turbokill. The band’s website describes them thusly: “Inspired by the spirit of the 80’s Metal classics, the band is presenting itself full of power and with a modern sound.” I agree. Opener “Turbokill” is powered by tough-as-nails Judas Priest (Painkiller era) style riffing, with gang-shouted backing vocals belting out the titular word. Chorus is both melodic and memorable, as Dietrich sings, “And every night I’m on my ride / To take control over your soul,” as the punishing riff grinds away. “Don’t Deal with the Devil” begins with a delicate clean intro with gentle guitars and a fragile vocal, only to erupt in fist-banging fury 45 seconds later. More mighty Painkiller-type riffing, a spinetingling performance from Dietrich (who sounds as good or better than he ever did in Alpha Tiger throughout this EP), and a pounding chorus ensue, before giving way to a speedy, dizzying lead break and a quiet spoken-word passage. Then the giant riffs and killer chorus take you home. Wow. “Global Monkey Show” is more of a lighthearted melodic track served up with a large helping of social commentary (“New cash new car new phone / It seems you are the hero / ‘Cause your life feels better on credit”). Catchiness and melody are at the forefront here, and you’ll be tapping your toes and singing along with the “whoahs” and the splendid harmony guitar section in no time. Turbokill saves the best for last in the form of “War Thunder,” a glorious exercise in German speed/power metal perfection recalling the best of bands like Scanner, Gamma Ray and the aforementioned Alpha Tiger. Every song on this EP is great, but “War Thunder” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in 2018, just paradise for those who worship at the altar of German melodic speed.
Unfortunately, that’s all we have on this Turbokill EP. Four songs, a hair under 16 minutes. It’s enough to whip you into a frenzy and leave you frothing at the mouth, but it’s just too damn short. Fingers crossed that Turbokill deliver a full-length album in the near future delivering on the massive promise of this EP. For now, though, the name Turbokill belongs firmly on your radar. Check out these four songs. Marvel at the stellar songwriting and the other-worldly vocals. And keep your eyes peeled. Turbokill just might be poised to ascend the mountaintop. For now, lucky attendees of the Harder than Steel Festival in Dittigheim, Germany later this month would be well advised to arrive early, for Turbokill are kicking off the festivities.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~