Of all the sub-genres which seem to stay persistently strong over time, alongside youth crew, crossover thrash is one with some classic releases; Best Wishes (emphatically not Alpha Omega), Handle With Care, Born To Expire. These albums manage to successfully capture the complexity and experimentation of metal with the rawness and spirit of hardcore, forgoing the pomposity of the first and the inwardness of the second.
Power Trip continue the strong lineage of metal-meets-hardcore hailing from Texas, effectively beginning with D.R.I and most recently heard with the sadly missed Iron Age. However, unlike the rich careers of both bands, Power Trip were on the verge of fizzling out due to membership commitments and other misfortunes; Armageddon Blues threatened to be just a taste of what could've been. However, after a promising 2012 self-titled EP on Lockin' Out and a rejiggered lineup, the quintet are back with a bang.
Manifest Decimation is the groups first album and their debut on the renowned Southern Lord label. Ushered into the title track with abstract ambient noise and feedback, it bursts into life with shredding guitars, booming drums and the scorching vocals of Riley Gale. Atmospherically, a salient comparison would be with War Hungry, the side-project of co-producer Arthur Rizk (Cold World/Terrorism). In other words, the influence from classic metal stretches beyond song structures and ideas, permeating into the very essence of the record. To some, this will be as upsetting as the album artwork-a horrifically detailed piece by Paolo Girardi- whilst to others (myself included) it makes a welcome change from the identikit, Pro Tooled nature of a lot of music these days, beyond metal and hardcore. There's an admirability in bands who lovingly pay tribute to certain periods of music, as with Rohnert Park, instead of endless, inauthentic rehashing.
However, to call this just a tribute ignores the vitality on show. Instead, Power Trip tie together a number of influences to form a rewarding listen, on record and live. This tends to come about in the little things; the midway dive-bombs reminiscent of K.K. Downing on "Heretic's Fork," the groove of the bass intro on "Crossbreaker," the straight Anthrax breakdown of "The Hammer of Doubt." On a larger scale, whilst Manifest Decimation may be blistering metal, there's enough of an ebb and flow to neither bore nor exhaust. Frontman Gale manages to wrestle attention away from guitarists Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart with his reverb-drenched vocals. He has the ability to strike a good balance between metal and hardcore, with the viciousness of the former and much of the flow of the latter. It keeps the album grounded in crossover, the subtleties which count and stop it just going down the straight metal route. Indeed, if the horns-inducing guitar-work wasn't so often paid off with the boot-stomping mosh, the album would be a much lesser piece.
On their first album, Power Trip have made up for lost time and set the standard for other bands, metal or hardcore, to meet. In future, perhaps they'll become a band other groups will set out to pay tribute to, but for now they're harnessing the past to blaze their own path.
8.7 / 10
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The Life & Death Tour with Power Trip, Terror, Harms Way, and more begins in tomorrow in Chicago and runs through July. Check out a full listing of the stops below.
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