, March 8th, 2017 12:40
“Into the mouth of madness”
The first howl on the new Power Trip full-length was written prophetically as the 2016 primaries battled in and around the band's homestate of Texas. Raised on a punk rock diet, in a college-town where positive hardcore bands played alongside power-violence acts without batting an eye, the outcome of the election was just a dystopian madness that they never imagined. As the album, now mixed, mastered and packaged with artwork from the ever-disturbing Paulo Girardi, filters onto the streets, that nightmare is real. Power Trip, unwittingly, have soundtracked our anger, confusion and desperation in 32 minutes of tormenting thrash metal.
Nightmare Logic builds quickly into an anguished, otherworldly rumble with unsettling, industrialised noise – perhaps the masterstroke of Prurient and Terrorism producer Arthur Rizk who moulds Nightmare Logic from just another retro thrash offering into a shape-shifting, harrowing beast. When the breakdown come in – and by breakdown we mean both musical and philosophical – frontman Riley Gale yelps in genuine pain. There is a menacing groove and fiery fury in the guitars of Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart, while rhythmically Chris Whetzal and Ulsh pound bass and drums respectively with all the frustration of the socially displaced.
When thrash metal was born out of a collision of hardcore punk and heavy metal in the 1980s it was with a backdrop of similar political vexation. Thrash bands such as Nuclear Assault, Megadeth and Sepultura wrote songs that railed against war, injustice and corruption. As thrash made a welcome revival in the mid-2000s it took on a more lurid palette, drawing on the Troma tropes of toxic mutants and beer-bonging aliens. Power Trip are bringing back alienation, angst and terror to heavy metal at a time it needs it most. Lest not forget that Power Trip started life as a hardcore band, a hardcore band raised on Napalm Death and Metallica on either side of a TDK-60 maybe, but part of a positive outlook, DIY culture that saw them tour Europe for the first time with perky straightedge behemoths Bane. Despite debut 'Manifest Decimation's metallic leanings, and their signing to Sunn O))) overlord Greg Anderson's Southern Lord label as part of his mopping up of any new band that sounded like they could soundtrack the downfall of man, Power Trip were sorely ignored by the metal masses. Nightmare Logic looks to right that wrong. It's their revenge.
But at the heart of Nightmare Logic is not an anger at being judged too harshly, it's at home where they direct all their ire. The album is unashamedly outspoken on topics that have been distant from the centre of heavy metal – and the band are not afraid of taking their music to the core of a scene they see failing its fans when it comes to message-driven music. Whether it's a tirade against fanatical Christians on 'Soul Sacrifice' or 'Crucifixation', criticising social apathy on 'Executioner's Tax' or 'Waiting To Die' or a cry for revolt on 'Firing Squad' and 'Ruination', Gale's lyrics are a call to action, backed by relentless, crushing thrash metal. This is no retro throwback, Power Trip have poured their genuine, obsessive love of early thrash, but also Cro-Mags, Prong and Black Flag to create a boiling pot of modern metal mastery. When people look back on 2017, with all its disorientation, Nightmare Logic will be remembered for being both its salve and its solution.