A five step plan to maximizing your experience with Power Trip’s new record Nightmare Logic:
Step one: Enter automotive apparatus.
Step two: Drive somewhere.
Step three: Roll down your windows (I’m aware it’s February… DO IT).
Step four: Hit play and crank the volume to an unholy level.
Step five: Bang your head until chiropractic care becomes essential.
Because that’s what this album demands.
Power Trip’s music doesn’t need much in the way of introduction. A crossover between thrash and hardcore, the band’s last album, 2013’s Manifest Decimation, snapped many a neck with its mix of blazing speed, riffs heralding back to thrash’s golden age, and hardcore’s defiant aesthetic. It was great, but not especially new. Bands such as Black Breath and Municipal Waste had been mixing hardcore and crust punk with death and thrash metal for years before Power Trip entered the scene, and crossover favorites Iron Reagan released their own debut record Worse Than Dead in the same year as Power Trip’s. Crossover territory is fairly worn, and in a community that prizes and often demands innovation, there was a significant chance that Nightmare Logic would be nothing more than a thrash-obsessed retread that brought nothing of note to the table. Thankfully, neither of those judgments are applicable to Nightmare Logic.
As a clarifying statement, let it be known that Nightmare Logic is not an album for those who despise thrash or put a heavy penchant on uniqueness or originality in their metal. That is not to say that there aren’t unique or original elements to this record, but rather that these traits are not the driving force behind what makes this record great. It knows what it’s trying to accomplish, and proceeds to throttle your senses accordingly. You won’t get indulgent sequences of guitar pyrotechnics or drum solos that beguile and confuse. What you’re going to get instead is a brisk, tightly written, speed-filled flamethrower of a record that is one of the most enjoyable and headbang-ready releases of 2017.
Opening track “Soul Sacrifice” serves as a gleefully chug-heavy opening salvo, and gives the listener an accurate taste of what to anticipate throughout the album’s relatively brief run time, as the band unleash a rhythmic, thrash-inspired riff-a-thon that feels ripped directly from 1988. In fact, most tracks on this record vibe very strongly toward the golden age of thrash metal. Sonically, Power Trip creates a template that both honors thrash tradition and subtly subverts it through its more hardcore-leaning elements. The guitars deliver a slightly fuzzy, spicy punch that crackles with Slayer-like aggression. Solos rip and tear through these tracks with a ferocious and kinetic energy that should make Jeff Hanneman smile from the beyond. This sound can be largely attributed to some apropos production, which is a glorious throwback to thrash’s prime, but doesn’t feel overly kitschy or unoriginal. Guitarists Blake Ibanez (who also contributed some serious axe work to Eternal Champion’s latest record) and Nick Stewart run with this sonic template and turn it to fire, creating an exceptional mixture of speed, blast, and groove that populate these tracks with enough memorable hooks to fill multiple records.
The sheer amount of earworms on Nightmare Logic is borderline absurd. “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” is a prime example of Power Trip’s penchant for hooky progressions, delivering what has to be one of the catchiest riffs in any metal release this year, and exemplifying the sort of swing-your-fists-in-the-air-and-flail-like-a-maniac anthem that made thrash metal the legendary giant it became in the 1980s. It is the best sort of throwback, which could be said about the entire record.
“Firing Squad” and “Nightmare Logic” continue along the trajectory of intensity and groove established early on in the record, but also serve as platforms for Riley Gale’s vocal presence. Gale’s hardcore bark is particularly ferocious on Nightmare Logic, and brings a punk intensity that is both fitting and incredibly enjoyable. Power Trip feels most at home as a crossover band mainly because of Gale, who works with the musical ferocity of his counterparts to create vocal soundscapes that fit the sonic maelstrom surrounding him like a glove. This is one of the most commendable attributes of Power Trip as a whole; each different element in the band’s repertoire feels essential to their overall sound. Nothing here feels forced, but is rather an organic mixture of influences that coalesce to create something with a bite, rhythm, and style all its own. One may not be able to claim that Power Trip is completely original, but they are most certainly distinct.
Nightmare Logic is not an album begging to be dissected, nor will it be logged in the annals of metal as the purest example of unadulterated originality. It is instead an album to be enjoyed. To lean out of your car window and howl at the highway to. To inadvertently (or intentionally… you do you) punch holes in walls to. To bang your head and shake your fists to. It is metal to feel alive and make memories to.
Listen and go make ‘em.