Nightmare Logic goes straight for the jugular.
Texas outfit Power Trip has created outstanding metal for a decade, working a terrain that recalls the classic underground metal of the ‘80s. It’s not the only band tapping this retro fount (Iron Reagan springs to mind) but it’s easily one of the best. With socially aware lyrics and riffs that have the precision of an atomic clock, Power Trip eschews niceties in the earliest moments of Nightmare Logic and goes straight for the jugular.
Vocalist Riley Gale growls and prowls on “Waiting Around to Die,” which aims its pointed arrows at the pharmaceutical industry, and “Crucifixion,” which closes in on religious hypocrisy and greed. This is more than mere reportage. The lyrics become more chilling when you realize that Gale’s incisive observations likely come from his own reality.
Yet a singer is never a whole band, and any metal unit worth its tube amps relies on the power of the almighty riff. “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” finds guitarists Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart laying waste to the earth via scorching, power-mad playing that buoy Gale’s harrowing vocals. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Chris Ulsh (drums) and Chris Whetzel (bass) form an unstoppable rhythm section that speaks to this unit’s fire, hunger and integrity.
If such rock scribe enthusiasm reads like hyperbole, rest assured that Power Trip will gladly decimate all doubters. “Firing Squad” proves that the group has come into its own and stands to take the underground metal crown and wear it proudly and with force. A great live band brims from these grooves as on tracks like “Ruination.” This isn’t about trickery or the illusion of greatness, but about the reality that music must live in both the concert venue and the studio.
This kind of distinct, unapologetic mayhem would threaten to throw another LP off course, but on Nightmare Logic the Texans steer their way into heavy metal success rather than heavy metal excess. The titanic duo of Ibanez and Stewart promises to become one of metal’s premiere twin guitar units, in the realm of Tipton and Downing/Hetfield and Hammett if we’re lucky. Gale, of course, is on course to become an unforgettable front man that raises the bar for all who follow.
There have been plenty of comparisons made between Power Trip and bands like Crass and Discharge, and not without reason. Still, there’s enough originality and inspiration within these ranks that one can trace more than the intersections: There are departures, a certain American grittiness that seeps into the earth beneath this outfit’s feet and then finds its way into its music before it bursts out into an environment that needs exactly this kind of powerful metal cleansing.
Metal of this kind is undergoing a renaissance at this moment and a whole wave of high-caliber bands will soon be taking to the highways, raiding your towns and clubs, delivering these potent forms of expression that won’t soon be forgotten. Ignore it at your peril.