Friday, August 24, 2012

... POWERTRIP "Hell Rock" ep review

Powertrip is a stoner rock trio from Mexico and their EP Hell Rock is just bursting with laidback, infectious grooves and spacey jams. They sit on the intersection of the desert rock sound, 70s proto-metal  and touch of kraut expansiveness. Most of these songs stretch out over 7 minutes, with one exception.
‘Full Of Stones’ rather than being the Lemmy-style anthem the title suggests turns out to be a pretty trippy song, built around some halting, interesting mid-tempo grooves, moving into a more uptempo section   about midway through. The vocals are very raw edged and throaty especially when the second vocals, pitched a bit higher, come in and they lend a sludgy edge to the sound.  The amusingly titled ‘Sand Witch’ kicks in with a piledriving mid-70s Sabbath riff. Some effective wah usage gives the riffs that bell-bottomed stomp before the bass takes over, bringing in a psychedelic mid-section that’s like a heavier take on a classic Neu! Jam. ‘Made In Hell’ is another collection of mid-tempo riffage laced with some tasty hooks and Iommi-evoking hammer-on flurries. Sometimes when the band works a riff, putting it through a set of dynamics, they remind me a bit of Karma 2 Burn, the masters of working a stoner groove. ‘In Flames’, the shortest song on the album at 2 minutes 40 seconds, washes away memories of tedious melodeath excesses. The energy of this song complements the hectoring vocal tone especially well. The next song, ‘Shit Valley’ returns to a more extensive scale and has some of my favourite riffs on the EP; in fact it’s guaranteed to leave you with a silly grin on your face and an unexplained case of the munchies! The EP ends well with ‘3:00 AM’, another feast of hypnotic riffs punctuated with uptempo sections and some great jamming.
Powertrip is a true power trio, with the rhythm section playing an integral roll in underpinning and complementing the guitar. I was particularly pleased that the bass has a clear, ringing tone that really lets you pick out the details and get into the groove. I could have done with a thicker guitar sound, but all in all the production is clear and effective. Fans of laidback stoner jamming will enjoy this record and I can see it fitting equally well onto a psychedelic or sludge playlist.

words by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

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