Egomania - Hank Van Hell (Sony)
Most people outside of his native Norway would think it’s been a long time between drinks (or other substances) for Hank von Hell, The Artist Formerly Known as Hank von Helvete of death-punters Turbonegro.
Lifestyle issues twice rendered him an ex-member of his old band and he finally pulled the pin on them in 2010. A second spell in rehab (via a conversion to Scientology) put him back on his feet. Since then, he’s been a radio host, starred in a film, written an autobiography, appeared as a judge on Norwegian Idol, married a model and fatheried a daughter. All of which proves that fact is stranger than fiction when you consider Hank kick-started his career singing about having an erection..
Hank had a number-one hit in Norway as a solo artist in 2009 and fronted the post-Turbonegro supergroup Doctor Midnight and the Mercy Cult for a time. He’s now back on the boards in his own right with the release of “Egomania”, a record that might be a concept album themed loosely on the pitfalls of performing.
So for all you impatient people, here’s the rub: “Egomania” is more metal than punk - and by metal I mean the spandex and permed hair kind, as heard on the Sunset Strip circa 1986. Our Dimboola correspondent, Ron Brown, pegged it in one when he said it sounded just like Motley Crew.
As befits its title, "Egomania" is highly produced - no doubt with an ear to European radio - and the playing is slicker than a dophin's dick in breeding season. On the other hand, a track like “Too High” (an ode to getting fucked up - I guess L Ron Hubbard hasn’t taken all the hedonist out of the boy) sounds like speedcore with a smudged overlay of grit - before flashy lead guitarist Cat Casino punches in a Steve Van solo.
Some of the traits of Turbonegro’s best records are here bit it's a little too well rendred. The title track leads off with an esoteric introduction before slipping into a singalong that could have been at home on “Apocalypse Dudes”. The strutting “Blood” is up there too - in a metallic way. A couple of others sound like contemporary Alice Cooper. Take that any way you like.
There’s no faux homo here despite a song title like “Bum To Bum”. Hank clearly isn’t out to antagonise - he’s here to sell records.
The most arranged tune (among quite a few) is the Spaghetti Western-tinged “Adios (Where’s My Sombrero)” that sounds like a farewell to his Hank’s former self. Measured power chords yield to choppy riffs He might be a class clown but the man has depth. In the end, it's Hank's personality that lifts the record. All the buffing and polishing can't wipe that out.