Ass Cobra | Apocalypse Dudes

Sounding much like a next-generation Ramones, Norway's Turbonegro melds ridiculous, smutty lyrics to hard-charging rock without coming off as a joke band. Since its Oslo beginnings in 1989, this sextet has honed a dark, semi-ironic bludgeon that combines pile-driving punk energy with classic-rock grandiosity and sexually ambiguous glam.

While Turbonegro garnered early notoriety with songs like 1994's "(He's a) Grungewhore," the group didn't hit full stride until the 1996 release of Ass Cobra, a sinister piece of work featuring relentless, spine-tingling riff-roar and waggish homoerotic imagery. A peek at such track titles as "The Midnight NAMBLA," "Denim Demon," and "I Got Erection" offers all you need to know about the Turbo manifesto.

In 1997, the band issued its masterwork, Apocalypse Dudes. Still trucking in the themes of the previous LP, Dudesexpanded the aesthetic musically and lyrically, beginning with "The Age of Pamparius," an unlikely anthem about pizza. Throughout, Turbonegro elevated the arena-rockisms and raunchy humor to near Spinal Tap proportions, offering such over-the-top classics as "Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker" and "Rendezvous With Anus."

Lead singer Hank Von Helvete's mental meltdown in late 1998 forced an untimely disbanding of these apocalypse dudes. But the group's infamy and popularity continued to snowball, leading to reunion shows in Europe last summer. Now, Burning Heart/Epitaph has rereleased Turbonegro's best two albums (with bonus mpeg videos) and is promising the all-new Scandinavian Leather in May, with the band touring the States for the first time since 1997. Best of all, Von Helvete's back in top form, doing more unsavory things with Roman candles onstage.

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