Power Trip - Nightmare Logic - (9/10)
Published on February 27, 2017
Genre:Thrash / Crossover
Label:Southern Lord Recordings
Do you feel modern thrash metal is growing a bit old, with no real fire in the songs and bite in the riffs? Power Trip felt that way, and they decided to give thrash a big ol’ injection of cocaine in the eyeballs so that everybody could wake the fuck up and see what they were missing out on. Man, it’s been a while since a thrash band really grabbed me by the balls and made me angry and hyped the way that this Texan quintet does.
To be honest, my thrash tastes usually range on the wacky and proggy side of things, because I find if I’m looking for straight-up heaviness I gravitate towards death metal naturally. Nightmare Logic gives no fucks about genre preference, because it’s a thundering slap in the face that gets your blood pumping as good as anyone. Much of it has to do with the production, right off the bat. A healthy amount of reverb helps the songs resonate, and as a whole Nightmare Logic just has a sleek, crisp sound that’s very informed of modern extreme metal trends. Power Trip realizes that the key to writing a great thrash album isn’t just to recreate the exact riff style Kreator had in the 80s, but to instead use that as an occasional reference point for making heavy and punishing music.
There is not a single moment wasted on this album. Nightmare Logic alternates between explosive, ripping songs like “Soul Sacrifice”, “Firing Squad” and “Crucifixation”, and tasty grooving numbers like “Executioner’s Tax” and “If Not Us Then Who”, with a little bit of everything in between to keep things from going stale. The album strikes the perfect balance between playing to the band’s strengths and keeping things diverse enough to hold your attention throughout. There’s a bit more of a punk undertone, hence why these guys get labeled as crossover thrash, but I would argue the metal elements far outweigh the punk ones. They kept the brackish simplicity and no-bullshit songwriting, but the riffs and aesthetic are entirely thrash fucking metal. Power Trip aren’t big fans of extended solo sections or four-minute atmospheric interludes. They like riffs and they like it when you bang your head against the stage.
All of the musical characteristics mentioned above are great to have and everything, but that’s only the foundation. To really elevate your album to the next level, you have to have the right vocalist. All too often I start listening to some thrash, the riffs start to rev me up a little bit…and then some half-assed weak yelling comes in and all the momentum is lost. I can’t help it, I was raised on a diet of multi-tracked death metal vocals like those in Behemoth and Deicide. However, Riley Gale is the x-factor that elevates this album from “solid and worth a recommendation” to “holy FUCK this rips” with his bitter snarl. His voice fits perfectly with the thrash aesthetic but the modern reverb and scratchier feel make him sound agonized and furious with an intensity that you don’t find very often, be it in the 1980s or the 2010s. It almost sounds like he’s taking the unhinged approach of John Tardy and compressing it into something a little more direct and precise. Vocalists can often make or break a band, and I think you can guess which side Gale falls on.
This is a bit of a strange position for me to find myself in. You’ll rarely find me enthusiastically praising thrash for the sake of thrash, but Nightmare Logic gives me no choice. Power Trip aren’t an experimental or unusual band (and the progression from Manifest Decimation is subtle at most), but it’s not that they’re doing anything different, it’s that they’re doing everything right. It might partially be due to having very little serious competition, but I can confidently state that this is the best pure thrash metal album I’ve heard in years. Recommended for fans of…do I really have to say it?