Review Summary: An intricate, apocalyptic sonic landscape that one would gasp (and headbang) at.
Modern Times Series: (Part 4)
The first time I was attracted to Power Trip
is when I was recommended by the YouTube algorithm to the band’s live performance in House of Strombo, where musicians would play intimate shows in the home of the show's host George Stroumboulopoulos. In that very video, I saw the band turned a rather cramped living space with a large chandelier into an intense, rumbling room, performing a visceral, infectious four-song set where the audience tried their best not to headbang at all. Those adjectives perhaps also fit perfectly to the Texas band’s sophomore record Nightmare Logic
, as the eight-song album successfully captures the quintet’s powerful live energy with its blazing rhythms and guitars and its opaque yet infectious hooks. With its running time of 33 minutes, the album takes the listener into a wondrous, blistering sonic world that many of their peers would strive to create.
The standout single “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”, is enough to convince your half-hour long listen for the album: Began with skyscraping guitars and pounding drums, the song then followed with a groove-driven by power chords and rumbling bass that recalls the Countdown To Extinction
, then entered singer Riley Gale’s raspy growls, as he sneered at the privileged for enjoying their lives like living in heaven(“You buy in for the privilege to know what lies beyond
”), and snarled at them that the titular killer is coming to collect their “tax”, a.k.a. their lives(“You prayed for so long, and now you have your chance
”) and shouting the indelible hook that is “Swing of the Axe
” with the rest of the gang, resulting a song that are both indelible and brutal. This isn’t the only moment where the band balances both brutality and accessibility, as they also created one brutal song after another, whether is it a hardcore punk-infused pieces that throws their anger towards those who not fighting their own right (“Firing Squad”, “If Not Us Then Who”), marching, riff-driven protest anthem (the title track) and pace-shifting, chaotic satires on corrupted politicians (“Ruination”, “Crucifixation”), the band showcased both their astounding musicianship and songwriting ability. World-wary, aggressive, pessimistic, Nightmare Logic
is a record that filled with songs that are not only sonically clarified and raw, but sadly relevant to this stormy era, as it depicts the chaotic world nowadays as if it was running on a real nightmare logic that drives itself towards self-destruction.
But even the fact that they celebrate old-school 80s thrash whilst perfecting the sound, it doesn’t mean that they would not give up the space for experimentations. As the opening track “Soul Sacrifice” begins, a distorted sample of an explosion rumble in, and then we are greeted with cinematic strings and synths, only to have the band burst the calmness with a groove-laden metal chugs that recalls Sepultura
, and then they amped up the tempo with Gale’s vocals kicked in, caricaturing the swarming political correctness and the sacrifice of the perpetrators’ morals for it(“You falter in your judgement/Now your spirit is mine to break
”). This trait also can be found in “Waiting Around to Die”, thanks to Prurient
mastermind Dominick Fernow’s dystopian industrial intro, with the quintet crashed in a majestic entrance with a good amount of delicious riffs, then the band proceeded to a galloping performance with the riffs and rhythms sped up, with Gale growled to those who gave up their hopes and freedoms in exchange for comfort, while confronting their own hypocrisy regarding to their control of their own life(“You say the future’s yours/I say your future is filled with riot
”), with the band ended that is similarly powerful, sculpturing a tune that is relatively melodic yet nonetheless aggressive and profoundly relatable. These sonic experiments could have damaged the integrity and coherence of the album, yet the band managed to properly use them as auxiliary sonic textures which accentuates the apocalyptic, caustic sound that dominates this record.
The only problem here is that the album did not expand too far beyond the thrash metal sonic territory at all, as it seems the band recycled the old school sound of the thrash metal, despite the fact they also did an excellent job of perfecting and modernizing it with memorable hooks, relatable lyrics, and a slight hardcore punk and even electronica touch. Even so, it does not dispute the fact that this record resurrects the early thrash metal sound with a modern touch, as the band perfectly balanced brutality, rawness, accessibility, and sophistication, resulting in an effort that is unforgettable even for casual metal listeners. Scrappy, intricate and violent, it is a musical equivalent to the apocalyptic war field depicted on the album cover, as every second of the record is like a recording of each moment within the war itself, thanks to the fact that the band utilized various paces and the brutal, realistic lyrics in the album. If you are seeking for fresh air from repeated listens of classic albums such as Master of Puppets
and Reign In Blood
and/or overproduced revival albums nowadays in the thrash metal genre, then look no further than Nightmare Logic
. Raw, consistent, catchy and thunderous, it is one unforgettable album that rightfully secured the spot for the band in the modern era of the heavy metal music.
Personal Rating: 4.4 / 5
Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)
Waiting Around to Die
If Not Us Then Who