by Alexandra Mrozowska
- Columnist –
The Polish band Turbo has deservedly achieved its cult status among rock and metal fans of their homeland. Founded in 1980, it laid the ground for Polish heavy metal with their first Maiden-esque album Dorosle Dzieci, released in 1982. Later on, they went on exploring other subgenres of metal with their subsequent albums – hard rock (Smak ciszy, 1985), thrash metal (Kawaleria Szatana, Ostatni Wojownik, 1987 and 1989, respectively) … with some echoes of death metal (Dead End, 1990) or nu-metal/modern metal (Awatar, 2001) here and there. And yet, after their triumphant return with Tozsamosc back in 2004, Turbo remains faithful to the classic, pure heavy metal sound ever since. What is more, they’ve just released their second album after the departure of the original lead singer Grzegorz Kupczyk (replaced by the equally impressive Tomasz Struszczyk).
Piaty Zywiol is soon to be released in Europe and the U.S. in its English version The Fifth Element. It’s not the first time the band has been invading the English-language market with their music – and yet, The Fifth Element is a good place to start an exciting journey with Turbo and its mastermind and lead guitarist, Wojciech Hoffmann, into the band’s classic heavy metal inspirations, technical refinement and musical maturity all blending into one.
The majority of the tracks on The Fifth Element are fast-paced and furious ones led by galloping guitar riffs, with dynamic rhythm section and raw, feisty vocals (“Think And Fight”, “Taste Of Forever” – the latter enriched with a particularly outstanding, wild guitar solo by Hoffmann). For those familiar with the early Turbo, “Heart On The Pyre” may appear somewhat similar to the dynamic sound characteristic of the group’s 1982 debut album.
The echoes of Turbo’s classic inspirations are also present here, with Maiden-esque “The Fifth Element” (embellished with a beautiful guitar outro) or choral background vocals in “Light Up The Night” which may remind a listener of a classic Accept. An interesting track is “Blues Measured By The Clock Ticking”, which begins as a gloomy, acoustic ballad, but after a surprising change of pace evolves into a heavy song much in vein of Sabbath. There are also tracks in which melody prevails, such as “Smash The Wall” and “Handful Of Sand”, both being well-crafted pieces of melodic metal, almost catchy in spite of their overall heaviness and rough guitar shredding.
Tomasz Struszczyk, the band’s lead singer, proves his singing abilities and vocal range to be very solid and convincing throughout the whole record, it’s “This War Machine” with his equilibristic high pitched vocals (sounding much like Udo Dirkschneider) where his talents really shine through. There is also a place for an obligatory metal ballad – “Relentless” – features another breathtaking vocal performance by Struszczyk as well as Hoffmann’s wailing guitar sounds. And, apart from the bonus track which is an acoustic version of “Smash The Wall” (with some surprising sound effects), the frosting on the cake is “Amalgam,” over four minute long instrumental piece, a showcase of Wojciech Hoffmann’s guitar artistry.
One of the best shredders of his homeland, Hoffmann certainly knows how to rock for more than thirty years, and on The Fifth Element he delivers the expected dose of mad guitar riffs and fast-paced solos, classic in form but simultaneously fresh and by no means repetitive. With a line-up of solid musicians and an apt, passionate singer who perfectly fits into Turbo’s style, the band’s leader is here to show Turbo is alive and well, worth checking out and still able to outshine many of today’s metal acts. And The Fifth Element, their latest album, is clear proof of these facts.
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal
Wojciech Hoffmann – guitars
Bogusz Rutkiewicz – bass guitar, guitar on , guitar & acoustic guitar on 
Mariusz Bobkowski – drums
Tomasz Struszczyk – vocals, acoustic guitar on 
Dominik Jokiel – guitars
1. Think And Fight
2. Taste Of Forever
3. Heart On The Pyre
4. The Fifth Element
5. Smash The Wall
6. Handful Of Sand
9. Light Up The Night
10. This War Machine
11. Blues Measured By The Clock Ticking
12. Smash The Wall (acoustic)
Label: Metal Mind Productions
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.5/10