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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ongoing Explosion of Crossover Thrash Band Power Trip

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 3:02 AM

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An unsettling crescendo of guitar noise opens Manifest Decimation. It's a little post-apocalyptic and all of it is simultaneously dark and thrilling, like you're about to enter some very loud, crowded, dark space. It's like you're walking into a Power Trip show.

For any other band, all the breakdowns, grunts, reverb and solos could come very close to feeling like a buffet of retrograde 1980s thrash, where the musicians scrub out all the originality and fill in the blanks with cliches, Mad Libs-style. But Manifest's sonic depth -- much of the credit goes to lead guitarist Blake Ibanez and engineer Arthur Rizk -- is such that by comparison, records from other thrash revival bands sound squeaky-clean, safe, even, next to Power Trip.

It also helps that lyrically, there just are zero narratives about non-stop beer bonging or surfing on a sea of pizza slices off the coast of Weed Island. Defeat, doubt and rebellion appear often on Manifest, and "Hammer of Doubt," the album's final song, begins with a quotation, at first barely audible beneath a thick layer of creeping guitar:

"The world is full o' complainers. An' the fact is, nothin' comes with a guarantee. Now I don't care if you're the pope of Rome, President of the United States or Man of the Year; somethin' can all go wrong. Now go on ahead, y'know, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, 'n watch him fly. Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else ... that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, an' down here ... you're on your own."

Coen brothers enthusiasts will recognize it as the opening line of 1984 noir Blood Simple. Gale, a self-described "huge Coen brothers fan," explains its inclusion as maybe more than simply a chest-thumping, home-state shout-out in the form of a movie clip: "It captures kind of that despair that I want to be felt, and frustration about how the world is. It's not just because it's Texas, because it's kind of funny. But when you die, you only have you, and there's no one else."

Gale illustrates those themes during the band's chaotic live sets. "I don't think it's necessarily scary, but I think people who aren't used to that kind of music may think it's scary," Hefner says. "[Power Trip] are one of those bands that kind of everyone likes. I don't mean like how everyone likes classical music, but metalheads like them, and hardcore kids like them and kind of even indie rockers like them."

Much of the band's current popularity can be traced back to Lockin' Out Records, a Boston-based boutique hardcore label that's a tastemaker in its own right. Lockin' Out released Power Trip's 2011 self-titled EP -- two original songs and a cover of Prong's "Brainwave" -- and helped put the band on the map.

Label founder Greg Lockin' Out recalls that "they had mentioned having a new recording they were shopping around. I was interested, but not 100-percent sold because it's difficult for me to do a project with a band if I do not know them personally that well." After a little more scouting, Lockin' Out released the EP and with it came new fans loyal to the Lockin' Out catalog. The record has gone through three pressings.

Power Trip will release another EP with Lockin' Out this year, says the label's founder. "We are definitely trying to do another record. I think it'll happen this year for sure. It will likely be similar in format to the other seven-inch single I did for them."

Maybe they should update that rider.

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