The best bands have a power about them is evident to the fan, but hard to put into words.
In the case of Power Trip, their muscle stems from a place where crossover means “punks playing metal” as opposed to metalheads playing punk (an important distinction) and this manifests itself in cave man like brute force that can’t help but batter the listener into submission.
When I reviewed ‘Manifest Decimation’ nearly four years ago I concluded that it was a great listen, but maybe not an enduring one.
I have to say that I was wrong on the latter point, as the record still gets spun round these parts and it has never lost the force that was evident on first listen as a result of over play.
Playing in Belfast last year, that cave man like brutality was amplified. You really felt that, if the band had ordered the crowd to kill each other, they would have happily complied. And the band knew this all too well, hence why they whipped the crowd up into such a feverish frenzy.
Now, we get a new album.
The first thing that strikes me about this LP is the cover. Painted, once again, by Paolo ‘Madman’ Girardi, it carries on in a similar vein to ‘Manifest Decimation.’
This time, the dictatorship depicted on that cover has been defeated and the world has become a warzone of differing tribes in the same uniform, fighting for control of a diseased and decaying world.
Is it a political statement? Is it just meant to be a cool cover? Who knows, as it’s up to you to interpret it. All I can say is that the apocalyptic bleakness on show, made prominent by the use of sickly green and brown hues (all oil painted) knocks me for six.
And while the last one took it’s cues from the cover to Napalm Death’s ‘From Enslavement to Obliteration’, this one seems to be inspired by ‘Realm of Chaos’ by Bolt Thrower. No bad thing in my book.
‘Soul Sacrifice’ (no, not a Cathedral cover) opens with around thirty seconds of distorted noise, with an ambient piece being heard in between the distortion. Furthering the “decaying world” theme on the cover, it’s both sinister and relaxing, lulling the listener before making them realise they’re playing a Power Trip album.
And that is achieved only one way: riffing.
Much more midpaced than what you’d expect for an opener, said riff is still a chunky beast which holds it’s place in the background to allow for some guitar histrionics. All very well and good, but then the tempo picks up and off we go.
What is noticeable straight away is the reverb. While the previous LP was drenched in it (giving it a mood unlike most records of that ilk in that time period), here it seems to be more restrained.
Not that it’s a bad thing, as the song still rips. Vocalist Riley Gale sounds monstrous, and there’s a moment where a plectrum running down a string gives the feeling of a car crashing. Maybe not most people’s idea of an opener, but it hits the spot no bother.
Death And Taxes
As a contrast, ‘Executioner’s Tax’ is a let down, with a plodding riff (which I’m presuming is meant to be evocative of the walk to the gallows/execution chamber) that goes nowhere and even Gale sounding restrained. The middle eight has a cool, military style drumbeat and a chant of ‘Swinging the axe’, but it’s too short to save the song.
‘Firing Squad’ gets things back on track with speed, brute force and atmosphere. Some ace guitar licks on show here and the riff change reminds me of Cro-Mags. When it goes back into the chaos, you can’t help but think “why did Slayer stop sounding like this?”
By now, you should have gotten the gist of how the rest of the album goes. And the rest of it thankfully carries on in brutal form (the drums in closer ‘Crucifixion’ just POUND).
The big question is: does it outdo ‘Manifest…’? I would love to say yes (certainly most of the album blows away ‘Manifest…’) but my integrity forces me to say no, purely because of the inclusion of ‘Executioner’s Tax’ which has little to offer.
As it stands, we’ve got a second brilliant album from a laser focused, well toured band who set out to pummel. And do so in appropriate fashion. They know how to present themselves via their artwork, and they know how they should sound. All the ingredients are there, but I think the next LP will be the killer one. We’ll see.
There’s no denying: Power Trip know their strengths, and they play to them. When the best results hit, there are fewer things in the world that are better.
3.5 / 5 - Christopher Owens ::: 11/02/17