Artist: Power Trip
Title: Nightmare Logic
Genre: Hardcore Thrash Metal
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Length: 32 min.
Label: Southern Lord
Personnel: Riley Gale (lead vocals), Blake Ibanez (guitars), Nick Stewart (guitars), Chris Ulsh (drums), and Chris Whetzel (bass guitar)
The yellow, fiery sun breathes a sigh of contentment as light slowly dwindles in the primeval valley and descends, shimmering, into a mercury lake at one end. Giant cicadas and a multitude of other bugs and birds chirp in the distance. The sun takes another look before he disappears and is surprised to see thousands of Neanderthals filtering into the cliff base on the opposite end of the grassy plain. Every other figure carries a torch, and a few of them begin bonfires, whose fiery tongues lick the darkening sky. The wildlife falls silent.
The figures begin to chant, now, and their shouts fill the valley and ricochet off the surrounding mountains. The volume grows and grows until, out from the shadowy caves a bit above the cliff base, four cavemen emerge, instruments around their forward-leaning necks: two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and one hunched over fellow without anything, ugly as sin, mouth wide open to show his haggled teeth, a mean look in his eye and a chip on his shoulder. Their hairy forms contrast deeply with the white cliffs behind and above them and the smelly, dirty crowd below and ahead of them. The crowd’s noise pulses and quiets.
The cavemen are the band Power Trip, and, as if on cue, their fingers rise up from the ground, where they graze, and touch the strings of their instruments. The guitars begin, fast and rhythmic, and the drums come on in a torrential rain of fire, the bass droning solidly behind. Everyone in the crowd bangs his head in time to the music as best he can, and so do the band members. The ugly one steps to the forefront and lets loose a guttural scream as he starts with his lyrics. His vocals are monotonous yet intriguing for the raw passion they contain, like a mix between Lemmy Kilmister and a young Tom Araya.
Their sound is old-school thrash, but with a renewed and vehement energy. The guitars come to a crescendo, and one leaps to the front with an awesome, off-kilter, blistering solo, at which point the crowd begins to mosh like crazy. And no one stops moshing or head-banging until the band’s set is done.
Power Trip performs, hostile and loud, as they shout out the ills and injustices they have perceived. They say to us, “Have you been missing belligerent, out-and-out, this-is-what-we-think, deal-with-it music that screams its problems with our society and culture? Well here it is!” And, in many ways, they do it better than Havok did recently with Conformicide, as here it is less cheesy and more effective.
The name of their new album is Nightmare Logic. Though every song they belt out matches that description, the crowd is having anything but a nightmare. They’re eating it up and living their dream. They’re having the times of their lives. This is Texas-born, Texas-bred, hard-hitting, punky, aggressive, hardcore thrash to the max. It’s knuckle-dragging metal in the best of ways. It sounds at once ancient and new, both seeping of a history and relevant to the moment. It’s not very deep, but it covers what it wants to cover and potently hits it home.
Nightmare Logic pummels you with this music, exactly as I have described, for 32 minutes, never pausing for a breath. It hits you like a ton of bricks and keeps on hitting. It’s fast. It’s heavy. It’s thrash at its best. It doesn’t rip off things from the past – such as its inspirations like Sepultura, Exodus, and Nuclear Assault – but rather it takes their energy and style, infuses it with a punk mentality, dabbles with speed metal technicality, dips into death metal aggression, and channels all of it to the best of their ability. It helps that the boys in the band are technically proficient and adept at conveying their vigor.
It also helps that the themes these Texans proclaim are timely. “Soul Sacrifice” is concerned with people who let themselves basically be brainwashed into having a one-sided opinion and the way they are essentially selling their soul to one narrow point of view. “Executioner’s Tax” criticizes society for killing itself in trade for comfort and desire. “Firing Squad” asks us to consider what we’re willing to die for and what we’re willing to kill for. The title track is all about the messed-up way our society feels so lackadaisical and desensitized about tragedy. It’s just more news. “Waiting Around to Die” tells people that it’s idiotic to waste their lives away. “Ruination” proposes that perhaps our country is corrupt beyond repair. “If Not Us Then Who” is a call for us to stop sitting around being armchair critics and actually get out there in the mud and dirt and do something. It’s about not just having opinions, attitudes, and being a part of any certain culture. The final track, “Crucifixation,” at first glance seems to be anti-Christian and anti-religion, but upon listen, it’s really about the trouble with social-religious indoctrination and the narrowmindedness that encourages.
Power Trip created Nightmare Logic in the midst of the nightmarish 2016 election season, and the album became a criticism of the volatile and vicious political, corporate, and religious landscape that has come about in the past several years. This, in many ways, ties into their last album, 2013’s Manifest Decimation, in that it was all about how the population, though they are the majority, are letting themselves be controlled by the government and big business. It was, in some ways, a call to revolution, or at least change, and Nightmare Logic is too. It’s a metal call for unity too.
In some ways, all these things create a strange juxtaposition. In other ways, it’s awesome.
I’m going to give Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic an 87%.