Power Trip: Nightmare Logic

This Dallas quintet speaks to the questions of "the edge" with might and imagination.

Power Trip

Nightmare Logic

Label: Southern Lord
US Release Date: 2017-02-24
UK Release Date: 2017-02-24

Power Trip has been kicking hindquarters for nearly a decade now and Nightmare Logic’s arrival changes none of that. The Texas quintet’s considerable powers are on full display here: the might, intellect and imagination central to classic metal from the ‘80s underground joins seamlessly with contemporary sensibilities, creating an impenetrable wall of awesomeness. Walloping guitar riffs are the bedrock of metal but what sets any metallic outfit apart from the herd is its talent for creating hooks. The former and the latter arrive in ample supply here.

One can hear echoes of a different, more socially aware time. Just as the threat of nuclear holocaust, the scourge of drugs and inescapable poverty provided lyrical fodder for the aforementioned wave of American underground metal in the Reagan era, today’s socio-political nightmares give Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale plenty to growl about. “Waiting Around to Die” takes on the pharmaceutical industry while religious greed and hypocrisy land in the crosshairs via “Crucifixion”. More than mere sloganeering, the lyrics resonate with blood-chilling clarity and accuracy. If some are surprised at these grim realities, perhaps it’s because they weren’t looking hard enough. It’s evident that Gale has been and has had these matters on his mind for some time.

In “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”, guitarists Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart provide smoldering, napalm-soaked six-string maneuvers that enhance Gale’s fittingly frightening vocal performance. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Chris Ulsh (drums) and Chris Whetzel (bass) create the sound of an earth-scorching machine roving the landscape with a precision that should lead to the pair being spoken of in the most reverential of tones for some time to come. (Ulsh’s work on the opening blast, “Soul Sacrifice” proves especially inspirational as rattles and shakes the earth with his propulsive blasts of rhythmic precision.)

As impressive as that inaugural run is, one of the greatest feats here is the one-two punch of the aforementioned “Executioner’s Tax” into the wholly uncompromising “Firing Squad”, as the quintet moves from a meaty, swaying rocker into a relentlessly galloping slice of fist-in-the-face metal. What Power Trip also gets across in those tracks and others (such as “Ruination”) is what must surely be a force of ferocity on the stage. Too often we hear metal bands that carry great weight on record but become bogged down in trickery to the point that imagining it carried out in the live arena stretches to the point of absurd. These songs, however, seem born of musicians who know the studio is but one piece of the puzzle and that the live world is where one’s true mettle guarantees survival -- or results in an early and uncomfortable death.

What does it all add up to, then? This is a record that seems capable of setting a new standard in the genre and a band that could easily become one of the leading and most enduring of its kind. There are no missteps here; one struggles to find any fault in the material or the performances. This is an album that works end-to-end, which knows and keeps the plot. There are many unforgettable moments, including those found in the tracks listed above. Ibanez and Stewart will surely inspire a variety of young players to take up their axes and swing wildly against the injustices described in these lyrics and maybe against the rage these young men and women feel.

Some early words about this release have drawn comparisons between Power Trip and acts such as Crass and Discharge. It’s fitting, given the Texas quintet’s laser focus and apparent determination to be among the best of its kind. Nightmare Logic is already among the best metal releases of this still-young year and easily one of the most inspired and thought-provoking of the decade. Here’s hoping that Power Trip keeps this level of intensity and inspiration coming for a long, long while.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.