It is a joyous thing when a band drops a killer first record. On top of simply adding to our collective catalogue of good music, a great new record throws down the gauntlet in front of all other bands who inhabit a similar genre-sphere, thus setting a new standard of quality against which all other entries into the category will be judged. Unfortunately, these excellent first efforts also create a daunting challenge for the bands that create them, as fans will naturally have lofty expectations for any future output.
When Dallas, TX crossover band Power Trip announced they would be putting out their second album this year, I was both stoked and worried. The group’s 2014 debut album Manifest Decimation was a vicious blast of mean, memorable riffs and brutish, hardcore pugilism that demonstrated a knack for songwriting that deftly balanced new ideas with crossover familiarity. So, would Nightmare Logic, Power Trip’s second album released through Southern Lord records, measure up or fall short?
For those of you whose attention span falls closer to the “goldfish” end of the spectrum, let me provide you with a slightly abridged version of the review that is to follow:
PURCHASE. THIS. FUCKING. RECORD.
Okay, now for those who wish to delve a little deeper into why Nightmare Logic is worthy of such caps lock-fueled hyperbole, let’s dive right in!
Nightmare Logic gets so much right, it’s tough to know where to begin. The album’s stellar production focuses on enveloping the songs in powerful, caustic atmosphere while ensuring all of the instrumentation sounds razor sharp and devastatingly impactful. The songs retain the full force of Power Trip’s legendary live assault without losing a touch of clarity.
All of that studio magic amounts to a hill of beans if it’s applied to mediocre material, so thankfully Power Trip left any fat on the slaughterhouse floor. The ominous, distant explosions and mournful synth that precede opening track “Soul Sacrifice” set an appropriately uneasy tone before the song’s swaggering, malice-soaked mid tempo riff bursts through the speakers.
While songs like “Executioner’s Tax” and “Firing Squad” devote a healthy amount of time to classic thrash breakneck velocity, Power Trip are masters at abrupt tempo changes that either give way to groovy, slow-burn riffs that back up lead guitarist Blake Ibanez’s insane solos, or lead to breakdowns that feel scientifically formulated to fill local emergency rooms with the fallout from the ensuing circle pit. Moreover, while the grim tone stays fairly consistent, greatly fueled by lead singer Riley Gale’s unhinged, apocalyptic growl, many the songs on Nightmare Logic are super catchy and stand out as individual efforts. This is a stark and welcome contrast to other retro-thrash material where one song quite often feels indistinguishable from the next.
Power Trip also distinguishes themselves stylistically from their contemporaries by injecting Nightmare Logic with some truly sepulchral death-metal slime. Outside of the aforementioned grim tone present throughout the record, chord progressions in songs like “Ruination” and title track “Nightmare Logic” ooze with a particular malevolence that conjures the graveyard far more than the skate park.
Nightmare Logic represents the high water mark in contemporary crossover revivalism, standing out from the crowd while remaining true to its mission statement. For anyone still on the fence, just scroll up until you get to the words in all caps.
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson