Darkness Forever! Between the Lines in Hamburg and Oslo!

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As architects of one of the best rock albums made in the 1990s -- 1998's Apocalypse Dudes, a hypercharged blast of Alice Cooper darkness, Dictators edge, Poison Idea aggression, and stunning, hypnotic musicianship -- Norway's Turbonegro called it quits prematurely, shortly after concluding its European tour of that year. In fact, this album documents the band's final show, in Oslo, Norway, on December 18, 1998. Having developed a wildly cult-like following -- owing not only to the band's homocentric attitudes (one part A Clockwork Orange, the other part Tom of Finland denim and sailor hats) but also to its increasingly more articulate punk rock & roll (especially the fleet fingers of guitarist Euroboy) -- Turbonegro was poised for a massive breakthrough. Darkness Forever is quite a document of this band's abilities in the live arena. In the punk rock realm, a recording with this much limber-limbed groove, musicianship, poise, and professionalism hasn't been seen since Black Flag's Who's Got the 10½? in 1986. Indeed, it proved quite disappointing when vocalist Hank Von Helvete had a mental collapse in Italy during the same year, and was committed to psychiatric care. Disappointing primarily because rock & roll lost one of its most surefooted contenders. Either way, Darkness Forever catalogs the choice cuts stylishly, deftly, and with power and fury. Euroboy's guitar positively sizzles, and the rest of the band is in fine form, jamming and adding frills not found on the studio albums.

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