Look, you either get it or you don’t. You either feel it in your bones or you rely on the “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” principle and work off nostalgia for an album or two until the next trend comes along. For the ones who live and breathe it day in and day out, thrash is the only way to get the aggression out of your system. Make no mistake: Power Trip knows this deep down in their soul, and Nightmare Logic takes the raw intensity of their debut and sharpens the blade to a razor edge in the name of tight, angry no joke thrash that few are making these days.
Hewing to the dark and violent side of 80s thrash and early crossover, Power Trip have since 2008 been perfecting their particular mix of early Slayer, Nuclear Assault, and Exhorder: there’s a huge debt to Slaughter in the Vatican¹ in Power Trip’s tight attack and vocalist Riley Gale’s delivery. A demo in 2008 followed by a couple of EPs further refined the band’s attack until 2013 saw Manifest Decimation come to light. In a world of over-slick processed album covers that looked like they came dripping wet out of a freshman’s computer art class, the first thing that caught my eye was the killer artwork by Paolo “Madman” Girardi, the Italian master of stunning artwork for the likes of Inquisition, Lycus, Manilla Road and one of my favorites from last year, Wildhunt. Its the kind of artwork that tells you right off: no one is here to fuck around. Unless you’re ready to throw down and slay, pick something else. And immediately songs like the title track, “Conditioned to Death” and the titular “Power Trip” left any naysayers gasping for breath as they picked their bruised bodies off the floor. Hell, when even Pitchfork sings your praises it’s worth taking notice.
Four years later and not even two months into 2017 we’ve already seen Overkill bring it like thrash never died, so simply providing “more of the same” is a sure way to get your album dropped faster than the last Bonded by Blood record (2012’s The Aftermath, for those that made it past their early Exodus clone debut Feed the Beast in 1998). Any doubts as to Power Trip’s game being anything less than stellar should be erased as soon as the dirty Hell Awaits chug of opener “Soul Sacrifice” begins. The drumming courtesy of Chris Ulsh is so deep in the pocket it feels like prime Lombardo behind the kit. The comparisons to that Slayer record are deeper than a drum sound, though. Like that album it was a gigantic step forward from their earlier, more raw debut. You also get to see a maturation in the song structure, with songs like “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Ax)” and the title track playing with the form to establish a working template that identifies the quintessential Power Trip “sound” for lack of a better term. Gale’s voice is also a huge improvement over his already formidable debut. It’s clearer without sacrificing the raw, throat tearing rasp that separates him from his sing-song crossover peers. And finally, the cover art at the top of this review should put to rest any concerns about the artwork.
When even the best from back in the day are turning in albums that don’t quite cut the cloth (I’m looking at you, Testament and Anthrax) it’s good to know the anger still burns bright, the palm muted riffs are rock solid, and the drummer is tighter than a pair of Pony hightops. Nightmare Logic is a brutally precise slice of thrash that is putting veterans to shame. Now all that remains is to see if Power Trip can continue to mimic the trajectory of Slayer with album #3…