Power Trip’s new album, Nightmare Logic, is already a contender for metal album of the year. Working as the band does in the world of genre crossover, there’s always a delicate balance to be had between the thrash and hardcore elements, and few acts are able to nail it. However, the band’s sophomore LP for Southern Lord takes every bit of talent they demonstrated on their debut, Manifest Decimation, and goes harder.
Now, granted, the word “delicate” is pretty hilarious in the context of Power Trip’s music, because the eight galloping, pummeling songs on Nightmare Logic have exactly two moments outside of the breakdowns where they “slow” things down and work in something other than pure intensity. The first few moments of each side — the intros to “Soul Sacrifice” and “Waiting Around to Die” — are creepy and atmospheric, like horror movies waiting to happen, but they’re eclipsed by the likes of “Executioner’s Tax” or “Crucifixation.” Those mosh-worthy headbangers are par for the course on this album.
We spoke by phone with the Texas band’s frontman, Riley Gale, about Nightmare Logic and the process of putting it together.
Modern Vinyl: How are people responding to these new songs live?
Riley Gale: Very, very well. They’re actually taking time to check the record out, and learn the songs before we play them. So, it’s not just people standing around just listening to the new songs and taking them in. Kids are getting involved: stage diving and stuff. It’s pretty cool.
MV: What I appreciate a lot about “Nightmare Logic” are the intros, which sound like they’re from these lost horror movies.
RG: Yeah, we’re trying to have this sort of progression through regression thing, where we take these big, old-school influences, and we find a way to make them sound dirty and hellish for a modern age. To make them sound loud and evil and still be kinda raw, but without sounding like shit. Because there’s plenty of records that I love that sound like crap. I think we did a good job of just being able to find a good medium between it sounding dirty and still being tight and crisp, when it needed to be.
A lot of it goes into the guitar tone. The guitar tone, we were very happy with.
MV: I’m amazed at how much better “Nightmare Logic” sounds than “Manifest Decimation.”
RG: Oh, thanks man. It took a lot of work to make sure this record was very tight, musically, and had a unique sound. It was something where we knew a lot [about] what we were doing. We’d just learned a lot, going into it. The first LP was our first time ever doing an LP for me and Blake (Ibanez, guitar), but this time, we had a plan of attack going in, and we executed it pretty well.
We wanted it to be shorter, and we made it shorter. We wanted it faster, we made it faster. We wanted it heavier, we made it heavier. We wanted it catchier, and I feel like we made it catchier. We’re pretty proud of this one.
MV: Did you go into the studio with finished songs?
RG: Usually, what happens is that Blake has some big ideas, along the order of like a main riff, or some musical trick he wants to try out, and we go into the studio with him and [Chris] Ulsh (drums) and start jamming, and then fill in the holes with this like, loose structure of a song. Or, they’ll write a whole song, and then sometimes, I come in, and I’m like, “We need to lengthen this verse” or the chorus or whatever.
Sometimes, I’ll see a song in a different way, where he thinks something should be a chorus, and I think something should be a verse or whatever, and we just try and figure that shit out. We basically take that into the studio and start tracking them, and see how they sound. That’s when we really start to put the tricks and the flair into it. The songwriting is mostly the three of us, working together.
MV: What was the recording process like? Because this album sounds huge.
RG: We went out to a nice studio in Denton, called The Echo Lab. The guy who runs it, Matthew Barnhart, is like an engineer, basically helping our producer, Arthur [Rizk]. We tracked the guitar and drums in a big room, to get a big sound. It’s a good studio, an established studio. They had all the True Widow records, some other stuff like that. We just got a good sound out of it. It was like, cutting and raw — a lot tighter, but still rough around the edges. Cleaner.
We went to Philadelphia, which is where Arthur has his studio, and that’s where we laid down leads and vocals. It all came together, and it sounded really good, because Arthur is a wizard. Arthur is gonna be revered as a production god in the next 5-10 years, mark my words.
MV: I can believe it. “Clean” is a really good word for it.
RG: It’s like a very sharp razor blade. Very clean and well put-together, but it’s fiercely sharp around the edges. It’ll still fuck you up.
Power Trip is currently on tour with Iron Reagan. Tour dates can be found at their Facebook page.
Nightmare Logic is available on vinyl from Southern Lord.