Album art for Expulsion's Nightmare Future.

Album Review: Expulsion – Nightmare Future

Whenever big-name musicians drop a world-quaking collaboration, is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? I asked myself that question time and again throughout the entirety of Nightmare Future, the first album by newly formed punk/crust/grind supergroup Expulsion, which enlists the legendary talents of Matt Olivo (Repulsion), Matt Harvey (Exhumed), Menno Verbaten (Lightning Swords of Death), and Danny Walker (Exhumed, Phobia). Writing songs that works to each members’ individual talents can’t be easy, but you’ll be pleased to know that Expulsion proves it can be executed with merciless ease.

It’s always tempting when supergroups rely too much on the individual talents of its members (noodling around in look-at-me solo sections to the detriment of the songs). But the genres Expulsion plays around in aren’t known for unnecessary flash, and Nightmare Future reflects this with succinct, deadly-simple song compositions that are like shots of pure adrenaline. Danny Walker uses a blast beat-heavy playing style that propels each of the album’s seven songs, unexpectedly interjecting them into frantic half measures between d-beats and dynamic crashing. Matt Harvey’s buzzsaw guitar riffs augment the assault with sulphurous tremolo patterns, though on songs like Total Human Genocide he occasionally drops out entirely to let Menno Verbaten’s bass, which rumbles in the bottom level, to come into the spotlight. And on each song, Matt Olivo spews lyrics of the end times like a doomsayer, his toxic delivery demanding your undivided attention. Nightmare Future might be short, but there’s enough song variation and dynamics packed in every track to keep you clinging to every split-second.

It’s worth noting that Expulsion has been described by PR circles as delivering a “vile brand of 80s sickness.” It strikes me as interesting then that the production comes across cleaner than an operating room table. The blasts punch through with powerful clarity, and the bass is a gritty, audible delight. Those aren’t bad qualities, but Nightmare Future sounds unabashedly modern, and I think that’s worth noting for fans who like their crust and grind a little more, well, crusty and grindy.

It must be tough having a prominent musical pedigree — even more so when collaborating with others of similar talents. But when it all comes together as well as it does on Nightmare Future, there can be few complaints among creators or fans. Expulsion shows us what happens when talented individuals accomplish something great, and it just so happens to be a glorious vision of a future ending in swirling, all-consuming flames.

Nightmare Future is out July 11th via Relapse Records. Old-school skateboard grind to your nearest record shop or digital dealer and expulse your wallet of funds to buy it.

An iconic picture of the band Immortal, gesturing emphatically, but holding tubs of Desitin in their hands.

Desitin – It’s like corpse paint for your baby’s butt

At first, black metal aesthetics and baby-related stuff don’t seem to have much in common. But as I’ve proven time and again, the two aren’t always mutually exclusive. Desitin, a popular rash cream for babies, happens to match up rather remarkably to everyone’s favorite evil (and occasionally unintentionally goofy) metal genre.

Let’s explore how Desitin and black metal mix!

Not-because-I-want-to-but-because-I-have-to obligatory disclaimer: This is NOT a paid review. I have NOT been provided with review copies tubs of Desitin for this blog. My opinions are my own and are for entertainment and personal semi-endorsement purposes only.

It’s applied liberally.

Corpse paint adds an air of mystique, an element of the frightening unknown for those who choose to don its alabaster appearance. The rest of us plebs can’t possibly grasp its trve kvlt significance, but if there’s one thing our fragile minds can understand about corpse paint, it’s that you don’t modestly powder it on — you fuckin’ slather it. Anything less leaves you looking like a beach-bound tourist. I can’t vouch for how much a single trip to ULTA costs the members of Behemoth, but I’m sure they need a bag attendant to carry it all out. “Slaves shall serve,” indeed.

Desitin is applied in similar amounts, although the surface area you’re working with is much, much smaller. You only need a good finger dab or two (might I suggest the pointer and pinky fingers?) to completely de-Satan a baby butt rash with Desitin — a little bit goes a long way. I’m no brand loyalist, but it’s been nearly two years since I bought this two-pack off Amazon, and I’m just now dipping past the halfway mark on the first container. Value and effectiveness? That’s my fucking kryptonite.

It’s grim.

You’d think that corpse paint lends itself an irreplicable aura of grimness — a serious dedication to the dark arts whose might cannot, under any circumstance, be matched. But really, Desitin is no different, for what could be grimmer than the somber affair of reducing a rash from a child’s butt? It’s not easy work — you’ll set yourself upon the dreary task, knowing you’ll have to withstand an arching back, kicking legs, and vile, hate-spewing screams. It’s like a scene from The Exorcist, but with way more vomit potential (after she’s been eating nothing but corn and raisins all morning, you’re the one who’s going to end up losing their lunch).

It’s divisive.

If those wackos in Mayhem are to be believed, corpse paint is named for the appearance that fully alive individuals take on when they want to look like a bloodless deader (although I’d imagine making a Norwegian person’s already-sun-deprived pallor even more pallid wouldn’t be too difficult). If that sounds morbid to you, then ignore the part where Mayhem’s first vocalist, Dead, often said to be the purported progenitor of the practice, used to huff dead birds while performing live on stage. Or the part where Mayhem’s then-bassist Varg Vikernes stabbed guitarist Euronymous over twenty times and took pictures of his corpse. Or the part where drummer Hellhammer has said, in summary, that black metal is “only for white people.”

And that’s just one band.

There’s such a strong public association between corpse paint and black metal that any makeup-wearing modern band is assumed to have some kind of satanic or misanthropic tendencies. (Judging by how long KISS has been hellishly stringing us along with farewell after farewell tour, I’d wager that’s not too far off.) But black metal seems to attract individuals who subscribe to all sorts of shitty behavior and ideals.

But despite black metal’s controversial proclivities, this is one instance where the baby example may be more extreme than the metal one. Where Mayhem, Emperor, and others among the esteemed black metal elite have shunned corpse paint for the simple, petty notions of “it’s too mainstream” or “it’s lost its meaning,” Desitin detractors have much more dire reasons for not being fans.

A quick glance at the World Wide Web yields queries of whether Desitin is safe or not. People from about the mid-to-late-2000s point the finger at a several ingredients. Although Desitin mostly contains zinc oxide, it also contains butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), a food additive that is listed as a carcinogen in the state of California. The ingestion of large quantities of BHA have had certain effects on certain mammals, but reading about it makes my fucking head spin. Luckily, the FDA has provided a tl;dr for those of us whose brains have only enough room to remember the personnel lineups of every Megadeth album:

“While no evidence in the available information on butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) demonstrates a hazard to the public when it is used at levels that are now current and in the manner now practiced, uncertaintied [sic] exist requiring that additional studies be conducted.”

Basically, “questions remain.” If that doesn’t sit well with you, then definitely do your research (and keep in mind that “Desitin cancer” is a search term you’re likely to come across). Don’t be afraid to dive deep and read up on opinions from all sides, no matter how extreme.

So why am I using Desitin if there’s even the slimmest chance it could have ill effects on my dear, darling Gorgonna? Well, that’s a good fucking question. Desitin is to me what Dimmu Borgir is to black metal — it’s the mainstream choice. I can hardly conceive of what other diaper rash creams are available on the market. Like, maybe there’s a Gnaw Their Tongues-equivalent out there, or an orthodox anti-cosmic atmospheric rash cream that would turn ouchie skin from the hue of a boiled lobster to a fuzzy pink peach. Clearly, I’ve got my own research to do, but until then, I’m going to be livin’ for givin’ the Desitin its due because it’s worked for us so far. Ignorant? Lazy? Could be, but I — unlike some ass-backwards individuals out there — can change my ways.

Conclusion

As far as I know, most black metal bands keep corpse paint to their faces; everything else is sealed away behind layers of black leather and silver spikes. Sounds to me like a prime environment for chafing, where a little zinc oxide might be appreciated. Desitin’s ability to soothe rashes of seemingly any potency can’t be discounted when you’ve got incantations to spew and beats to blast, so maybe we’ll start seeing some endorsements soon. At the very least, if black metal bands began hurling tubs of BHA-addled Desitin into audiences instead of pig’s blood, I can’t think of anything more brutal.

Verdict: It is your Desitin-y

Diaper rashes are inevitable and uncomfortable. Have a means to treat them for the sake of your kid, but do decide if Desitin provides the best means to achieve that. Find a solution for diaper rashes that sits right with you and your child.

Album Review: Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

At first listen, Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic sounds for all the world like your typical thrash throwback — a pandering, nostalgia-laden love-letter to a decades-saturated genre. So why the fuck am I enjoying it so much?

It proudly wears common thrash trappings like whammy bar-wankery, retro reverb, time-twisting tempo changes, and syncopated percussive punching ripped right from Ride the Lightning and other damned-obvious source material. And after multiple listens, I still can’t pinpoint any effort Power Trip has made to modernize what they’re doing on Nightmare Logic. Therefore, I have to conclude that this Texas quintet has written an honest-to-God goddamned good thrash album.

Album art for Power Trip's Nightmare Logic.

“Soul Sacrifice” riffs with Exodus-esque enthusiasm before breaking into a Slayer-like sprint. “Executioner’s Tax” rolls like thunder toward a passage of Ulrich-ian tom pounding, building up tension to return to a lightning-crack chorus. “Waiting Around to Die” — with its palm-muted to open-note picking pattern and hazy production — could fit right at home on So Far, So Good… So What! (and even fits better, if you remember that “502” exists). It’s all stuff we’ve heard before, but even Power Trip’s previous effort, 2013’s Manifest Decimation, didn’t get it this right.

What Nightmare Logic does so well is harness the infectious energy — the no-nonsense, fluff-free, often-imitated intensity — of the primordial Big Four and Co. and injects it full to bursting into nine solid songs.

Aside from a few lo-fi, analog-sounding synth intros and outros, there’s barely a wasted second on the entire thing. Each song flows seamlessly between vicious verses, killer choruses, headbanging bridges, and dynamic breaks. Certain riffs occasionally get milked (the outro of “If Not Us Then Who” comes to mind), but it never takes too much of our time before we’re tearing into another track. Even the tacked-on second-verse solos — their inclusion more a regretful courtesy to the genre than anything truly noteworthy — serve the higher purpose of stoking the reignited flames and keeping the old-school metal momentum going. Strange, then, that for all their efforts in recreating the past, Power Trip’s tunes are so good at moving us relentlessly forward.

Above all, the thing that would sell any Bay Area ‘banger on Nightmare Logic (and Power Trip as a whole) is the vocalist. We’ve endured thrash singers for years, we know what to expect: sharp, rapid barks, accenting the attack of the guitars. And although lyrically it’s nothing special, Riley Gale’s vocal delivery would have stood out even in ‘85. His brazen hardcore howls, occasionally dragging deliciously behind the beat, are pulled off with charisma and confidence. He’s not carrying the band by any means, but he’s a hurricane force to be sure.

Power Trip does seem to favor their 75-85 BPM backbeat-banger riffs, but given the nostalgic context these sections never feel out of place — they’re practically made to be played live and get the circle pit brewin’. I can perfectly picture the bridge from “Firing Squad” eliciting the kind of impromptu mosh pit camaraderie that makes you sling an arm around the slippery, sweaty shoulder of the hesher next to you — and him to you — and headbang in unison until both your goddamn heads rattle off.

Nightmare Logic doesn’t surge with unrestrained electricity, or seek to impress us with phenomenal fret- or feet-work (the drummer doesn’t have a double bass pedal). Power Trip wears their influences on their sleeves, and they don’t spend a second trying to convince us they’re anything more than what they are. Instead, Nightmare Logic hits hard and plunges deep, an IV needle pumping us full of magical, time-traveling fluid, miraculously bringing what was once thought dead back to life. This concise, carefully executed package is the real deal.

If you’ve ever argued over whether Metallica or Megadeth was the better band, I can’t imagine you not liking Nightmare Logic.

Support Power Trip and buy Nightmare Logic in the link located above.