Texas-natives Power Trip have been at the forefront of the crossover thrash attack since their 2014 release Manifest Decimation. Riding the wave of popularity from their sophomore LP last year, the band just dropped a compilation of remastered tracks from their various studio sessions between 2008 and 2014. Let’s see how their older material compares to their newer work.
Power Trip has been a shine of bright light through the murky fog that tends to surround the hardcore movement. While the band themselves are considered to be crossover thrash, a blend that incorporates vocals and drumming more in line with the hardcore genre coupled with a thrash-oriented guitar base, they are definitely more on the “metal” side of the equation. This bias has undoubtedly contributed to their popularity within metal circles and their subsequent rise to fame.
The group’s recognition has not been undeserved, however. They have been touring non-stop for the better part of their career, amassing a cult following along the way. Power Trip’s work ethic is unparalleled as they tour relentlessly and offer a wildly energetic show every time they take the stage. Feel free to browse YouTube and watch a few of their shows; find me an instance where the group doesn’t look like they’re giving it their all and the crowd isn’t having a great time. The Opening Fire: 2008-2014 compilation is as the name suggests, a professional release of the group’s various material released on splits and EPs prior to the release of their first album. While there is not any new material on the album, the compilation serves to shed light on a bunch of widely unheard-of gems from their early years.
The three opening tracks, “Divine Apprehension”, “Suffer No Fool”, and “Brainwave” all come from the Power Trip EP released in 2011. While “Brainwave” in a Prong cover, the former two tracks are arguably the best on the record. Both songs really foreshadow the style that the group would follow to set in to, as they offer relatively technical instrumentation elements coupled with the group’s signature screams here and there. “Suffer No Fool” starts with a smashing beat reminiscent of the intro to Kreator’s “Ripping Corpse”, possibly an homage to a stellar thrash band. Although one could argue that Opening Fire has more of a hardcore flair, this comparison is extremely indicative of the direction that the group will eventually take their music.
The release also includes an early version of fan-favourite “Hammer of Doubt” that would later appear on Manifest Decimation. Diehard Power Trip fans will appreciate this inclusion as the stylistic progression between the song’s two versions tells the listener a lot about the group’s evolution.
While the compilation’s first half is strong, I would argue that the second packs more of a punch. “Armageddon Blues” is one of the longer tracks on the release and has a lot to offer. Vocalist Riley Gale releases a punishing scream early during the track’s beginning, which progresses into a faster section, ultimately culminating with the song’s first verse. The song’s vocals meld perfectly with the underlying instrumentation and groovy guitar deliveries. “The Evil Beat” gives off a strong new-wave thrash vibe to the likes of groups like Havok and Toxic Holocaust who were clearly major influences for Power Trip. Finally, “Acid”, “Questions”, and “Vultures” close off the compilation. These three tracks were pulled from the group’s first demo and it really shows. The tracks are shorter, more hardcore-oriented, and demonstrate the group’s unrelenting aggression.
Ultimately, the first half of the compilation offers more polished and guided material that is reminiscent of tunes that made it to the group’s two well-known LPs. The second half follows to show the group’s hardcore roots with a more raw and unleashed sound. While the release doesn’t offer freshly-written material, Power Trip fans who have previously stuck to the group’s official album releases will appreciate this compilation.