Power Trip are a five piece crossover thrash band based out of Dallas, TX. With a strong hold on the hardcore community and an odd silence within their other relevant circles, my initial introduction as a neophyte hardcore listener to the Texas group was anomalous. Already awash in a sea of other similar groups from my own beginnings as a metalhead, their debut EP Armageddon Blues did little for me and not until their Lockin’ Out self-titled EP did I begin to bear a glimpse into the validity of the hype behind the group. Manifest Decimation clamps a radioactively charged and venomous grip around that gripe. As a denominational play on the 19th century imperialistic ideal of “manifest destiny”, Power Trip’s debut full length Manifest Destiny lays not a claim to total conquest for one bloodline, but a deterministic blood prophecy of planetary destruction by riff and simply put, it’s one of the best thrash records I’ve heard in a long time.
With the album’s production drowned in reverb, the familiar crossover conflict now sounds like a battlefield. From the deafening artillery fire clash of the hi-hat to the war zone gang shouts, the overall soundscape is just an infinitesimally more hostile effort than the group’s previous efforts. The vocals are grounded with the volume of Integrity’s Dwid Hellion and sharpened with the tact of Kreator’s Millie Petrozza, with the riff work following suit. The group’s usual Cro-Mags/Leeway meets Exodus assault, this time around, appears to be charged with more of a teutonic thrash influence and the guitars are filtered through a more brooding and distant tonality. So intrinsic to this album was the production that its synthesis along with my lyricless(as is usual with promos) listening escapade was able to vividly portray a narrative solely through its instrumentals, a narrative of intergalactic warfare.
The title track begins with a sense of foreboding and other-worldliness. Droning guitars and odd synthesizer effects envisage a foreign foe, a malevolent extraterrestrial species emerging throughout a torn fabric in time. The thunderous clash of the drums kick in along with the choppy guitar work, it’s execution catalyzing but not yet propelled, drawing to mind naval carriers, F-22’s, and uneased military officials at the hilt, ready for blood. Once the intro scream emerges, it’s the call for battle, total war. A mind-melting solo mid-way sounds like alien dialect in comparison to the power chord assault and is soon followed up by a massive tiebreaker divebomb, the wail of a naval jet dropping a payload of nukes on the alien scum. The track sustains, succumbing to its origins with a thunderous drum beat, its steadiness mimicking the stomach-curled heart beats of the desperate governmental onlookers. The riff finally kicks back in, rising in tension. An unfazed extraterrestrial force looks onward among the rubble of thousands of dead civilians.
“Heretic’s Fork” follows soon after, exploding like a suppressive auxiliary regiment sent in to kill. Grueling thrash riffs explode, juxtaposed with a regressive chorus that first propels into the tornado of riffs that is the solo before sinking its teeth into a massive mosh part that bookends the track, its steady beat and piercing cymbal sounding like a volley of cannon flak fire. The track concludes with eerie syntheziation, a shell-shocked moment of silence before kicking into “Conditioned To Death”. A largely fleeting track, “Conditioned To Death” does not initially charge forth with the vehement speed of the previous tracks and when it finally does, the result is more spastic and insane, filled with a definite Slayer-ian technicality which sounds like a surge of extraterrestrial laser fire. Desperate citizens run blind into underground bunkers. The track’s wailing solo comes layered onto the reverbed yells of frontman Riley Gale resembling a surge of telepathic warfare, inducing cranial hemorrhage and combustion for the rampant civilian flesh puppets. The track concludes with a sample of a child asking if the human race is destined to die. I imagine him watching safely from an underground bunker.
“Murderer’s Row” starts out with a volley of riffs before expanding into a snare blast and a moment of silence. A victorious riff emerges, signifying radio contact incoming from allies relaying news of a successful offensive against the antagonists. Liquid Nitrogen. They are going to Terminator II the alien fucks. From then on, the song just screams forth aggression. Gang vocal shouts ring out like confident orders sent from bloodthirsty commandants. The track revs to an end with a commotion of drum blasts before entering a final solo, the utter maniacal guitar wails signifying the death cry of an alien fleet. A single synthesized clash draws to mind a dark room with shady government officials. One man proclaims to the others to enact a secret plan, Initiative One.
“Crossbreaker” is that plan, kicking in with a smooth bass line that is just screaming for the visual appearance of Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead. Groovy, cool and sustained all the way through, the bass line draws to mind the visual representation of Initiative One. A midnight assault with hordes of stealth vehicles charges forth. Thousands of camo-ed submarines and speedboats begin to swarm the now ocean-situated alien kremlin just as stealth carriers begin their ascent towards the atmosphere’s periphery to dish out some justice not seen since the days of the Red Baron. “Crossbreaker” never ever really takes off and its sustained nature visualizes the desperation and diffident of the combatant force. Two guitar wails emerge near the ending of the track signifying the successful death of two alien headquarters. But already, the human forces are exponentially dwindling. A failsafe shockwave on a fallen alien chief detonates, wiping out a vast fleet of the offensive force.
The immediate conclusion of Initiative One comes in the form of “Drown”, which begins with a slightly less victorious but still heavily inclined riff. It’s near end battle and the surviving Initiative One forces know it. They decide to mount a final last ditch offensive, an as of yet untested experimental psychic warfare device. The song sustains for a long ditch of silence as the device set off, an unseen ear melting and organ disintegrating invisible shockwave. The riff kicks back in with an utterly pained yell. Government drones relay a local stronghold perishing, a sole survivor raises his radioactively decayed hand out before succumbing to a gelatinous gory gloop. The track marches forth like the ever increasing force of the shockwave. The concluding mosh part comes in tow with a doomish refrain in the background, a massive thousand mile crater forms within the site of the blast enveloping everything in it, destroying an unimaginable proportion of the human race.
“Power Trip”, the group’s anthem track jolts forwards soon after with a largely lighter and more melodic flair of thrash not unlike that of Anthrax on Spreading The Disease. Daybreak has come and auxiliary forces from around the world are surmounting for a final assault. The track explodes mid-way with a little “British steel”, a solo not unbefitting a place on Judas Priest’s shredder, Painkiller. The track implodes near the end with a smattering of drum blasts, the Hail Mary gameplan of military offense. The deafening sounds of the hi-hat resembles the relentless and ear-piercing uniform sound of discarded shells and bullets. The chaos ceases among clouds of nuclear rain and molten soil. The final reverb echo of the track finally signifying triumph over the alien foe.
Opening up with a quote from the Coen Brother’s Blood Simple, the revamped “Hammer of Doubt” concludes the album. The appropriate sample paints an image of a man over another with a .44 Magnum. Chaos and human distrust in the wake of the alien aftermath conclusively reveal the true cause of the end of the world: us. The America’s Hardcore revamped track charges forth with a vehemence that is backtracked by a glimmering and eerie refrain before shoulder charging its way in with a devastating solo. Clashes run rampant in the street, rivals rematched and temporary alliances severed. The track comes through near the end with a drum beat not far from Slayer’s “Skeletons of Society”, a connection fitting the narrative created. An epic clashing of beats draws the orchestrated chaos to an end. Eerie synths fade out and pan out to a terrestrial view of Earth in chaos. It’s eternal conflict, the Hobbes-ian image of a war of all against all made true, the devastation that is Manifest Decimation.
Power Trip’s Manifest Decimation comes out June 11th via Southern Lord Records and is up for pre-order now. Stream the first two tracks of the album below and be sure to follow Power Trip on Facebook here for future updates.
Label: Southern Lord Recordings
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Favorite Tracks: “Murderer’s Row”, “Manifest Decimation”, “Crossbreaker”, “Power Trip”, “Hammer Of Doubt”