Power Trip - Opening Fire: 2008-2014 (Cover Artwork)

Power Trip

Opening Fire: 2008-2014 (2018)

dark operative

For many people, 2017’s critically-acclaimed Nightmare Logic was the first time they had really listened to Power Trip. Given the overwhelmingly positive reception to the record against the relative obscurity of 2013’s debut Manifest Decimation (as well as the EP’s that preceded both records), then I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling extremely lucky to have another collection of songs from Power Trip quite so swiftly. But how does this record feel given that some of the tracks are almost 10 years old?

The obvious first question is whether they feel dated. I would be inclined to say that although some of the songs certainly wouldn’t be a natural fit on 2017’s breakthrough, Power Trip’s style means that the songs have aged pretty favourably. Their signature mix of thrash, hardcore and punk is present right from the band’s earliest recordings - but there are definitely moments when you feel a more tangible old-skool heavy metal influence than might be true of Power Trip in 2018. You only have to look as far as the cover art on the record to see this is going to be present to some degree. (Reminds me of the A Matter of Life and Death cover by Maiden.) The intro to “Armageddon Blues” (the title track of their first EP, incidentally) is a perfect example of this - ominous, metallic staccato riffing, backed with an almost G ‘n’ R-esque drum build, but then when the song kicks in fully, the pace and ferocity brings it right back into Power Trip’s signature sound – albeit with a primal metal wail from Riley Gale that is not so typical anymore. “Acid” also benefits from the kind of rapid fire riffing that shows a definite lineage with the likes of Judas Priest and 90’s Megadeth.

Vocalist Gale’s style, beyond occasional individual caterwauls like the one mentioned above, hasn’t changed vastly in the time since the Texans first started recording. His bellowed battle cry style works perfectly within the combative network of styles that Power Trip stitch together. Much the same can be said about both Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart’s guitar work. The tone, pacing and flair in the solos are instantly recognisable and always feel very much at home when they arrive. Ibanez and Stewart’s malevolent, ferocious riffing and chugging has always been there as well, evidently – but equally pleasing perhaps, are the thick slabs of groove that you find in songs like “The Evil Beat”, and “Divine Apprehension”. Groove like this can only ever be achieved with the aid of a really powerful rhythm section, so it’s lucky that Chris Ulsh (Drums) and Chris Whetzel (Bass) are on hand to deliver that in spades. All of this is complemented by production that is clean enough to allow you to discern the technicality, but still gritty enough to make it feel like the band are grinding the songs out from instruments hewn out of stone and steel.

This collection tells us a few things: that Power Trip have been writing and playing their own brand of thrash-punk for a solid decade now; They’ve been doing it to a really high level – and that they’re proud of their earlier output. I have to say that I think they should be, too. It could well be that they’re saying “You guys clearly like Nightmare Logic, so go and check out the old stuff too” and capitalising on their current relative fame. Again, no problem with that at all – it’s a great collection of songs that deserve to be heard. But that’s also where my only small misgiving lies as well: that this is a collection of songs, some of which seem quite disparate and it’s not a cohesive unit. But then it was never meant to be. I suspect I’ll be listening to Nightmare Logic for years to come as I think it’s a stunningly sequenced, self-contained evocation of what Power Trip are. This isn’t going to be quite that – but it’s totally worth your time whether you’re a Power Trip fan or not at this point. Their style brings so much to the table for fans of cutting edge and legacy bands alike, that there can’t be many heavy music devotees out there who won’t find something to love in this record.

Oh yeah, and if you’ve not seen them live yet – make sure you do. All these songs take on another level of potency in the live environment. Power Trip are steadily building themselves a reputation for their live shows and on the strength of this record, maybe they should be given more credit for their consistency in the studio as well.