Still from AFI's "White Offerings" music video, with vocalist Davey Havok looking deeply into the camera.

Gorgonna’s Playlist, Vol. I: AFI, Power Trip, The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)

It was only a matter of time before all the lullabies and nursery rhymes gave way to actual music.

Gorgonna’s going through a daily state of self-discovery. Along with picking up favorite food preferences, vexing behaviors to challenge us with, and other assorted yet endearing quirks, she has acquired an affinity for songs from Mommy and Daddy’s music libraries. I’m thinking that, since both the wife and I are music lovers (albeit on different, often opposing sonic spectrums), this isn’t going to be a rare occurrence. And naturally, I saw the inevitable outcome of making a recurring series out of it. So here we are.

Presenting Gorgonna’s Playlist: Vol. 1.

AFI – “White Offerings”

Currently, this is far and away Gorgonna’s favorite song. She requests it every time we get in the car, so much so it’s become synonymous with on-the-road travel.  I have to keep the CD in my car and have had to download it to my phone — just for the anywhere, anytime flexibility. She was first subjected to its emo/rock programming via a Sunday afternoon of repeated YouTube viewings — I think she likes the song as much, if not more so, for the enthused rock-out session I perform for her whenever it plays.

I’ve only recently developed a deep appreciation for AFI . I’d listen to a few tracks here and there during high school (what should have been my angsty golden years with them, I know), but they’ve largely been off my radar until now. I can attribute this excellent podcast for my current adoration (both for the podcast’s hosts and for their journey through the band’s discography), but it’s really the timeless quality of AFI’s music that has (ahem) ignited my passion for their songs. It does become a bit tiresome to play “White Offerings” every time we hit the road, but we follow it up with other favorite Blood Album tracks to keep things fresh for my sake.

Status: An Appealing Audio Offering

Power Trip – “Soul Sacrifice”

It seems so counter-intuitive, the way Gorgonna “happened” to like this song. This is metal, a style of music that wants to dominate, to make other genres bend the knee and swear fealty. More than that, it’s thrash — not exactly one of the more accessible subgenres. It’s noisy. But leave it to vocalist Riley Gale’s endlessly appealing charisma and delivery to win over the tykes as well as the die-hards. Gorgonna loves mimicking the opening “WAH!” and more deathly “Owwww!” that occur throughout the song; next thing you know, we’ll be enacting our own gang chants on “Firing Squad.”

My love for “Pow’ Trip” is well-documented. That Gorgonna mirrors even a fraction of the enthusiasm I feel toward this song in particular makes me a very proud papa indeed.

Status: Diaper Thrash

Ylvis – “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)”

Surely you remember the YouTube sensation that swept the world in — what was it, 2011? 2013? The one that had suburban grandmas, tech-illiterate uncles, and junior high schoolers all in a tizzy? Allow me to refresh your memory with a few of the lyrics:

“Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!
Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!
Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!”

Who could forget?

I’ll be honest — we bought the book-version of the song long before Gorgonna began turning paper pages, even going so far as to inscribe it with the first “Merry Christmas from Mommy and Daddy!” By then it had acquired too much sentiment to simply hide away, and so her exposure to it was assured; “The Fox” will forever go down in the Annals of History as the first “song” she ever liked. Although, to this day, Gorgonna has only seen the video a single time (at our house, anyway; I can’t vouch for the grandmas). But you only need to have heard the song a couple times to have its melodies entrenched in your deepest cranial pits forever.

At the very least, repeating the gibberish that makes up the majority of the song’s lyrics was (and still probably is) a serviceable way to distract Gorgonna from flipping out at the dinner table or on the diaper-changing pad.

Status: Situationally and Functionally Tolerable

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.