Thursday, 24 March 2011

Mini Review: …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Tao of the Dead

Tao of the Dead is a strange kind of prog record. None of the tracks stray much further than the 5-minute mark (except for the obligatory 5 -part, 16 minute closing suite "Strange News from Another Planet"), and it’s indulgence seems utilitarian more than excessive. Trail of Dead move ever closer to the substantially more straightforward Source Tags & Codes, their acknowledged masterstroke from 2002, a sound that had seemed increasingly improbable to ever rekindle. However that is beyond Tao of the Dead’s sonic realm again, not necessarily a bad thing. The plainness of particular songs comes not from Source Tags & Codes (Trail of Dead have never been plain), be it in the ironically straight(ish) hard rock of "Pure Radio Cosplay", the curiously infectious "Summer of All Dead Souls", or the almost Pavement-like tenderness expressed in "Ebb Away" (a lot of Pavement references over the last few days I know) sound purely natural infusions of the 70s prog influences of King Crimson and Genesis. Sometimes the inverted frenzy leans far enough to be considered post-rock; "Cover the Days Like a Tidal Wave" reminds me of Slint. Prog is the predominant sound and the medium for these songs though, as it has been since Worlds Apart, and those looking for an entry point into the genre may not find it here. Prog purists may also be put off by an arguably more commercial sound. There’s a clear overall effect of the album, however as neither a prog nor indie rock record Tao of the Dead often seems unengaging from either standpoint, but not to the point where the record becomes entirely unrewarding. The superbly titled "Weight of the Sun (Or the Post-Modern Prometheus)" serves as as an excellent breaker, sounding somehow more and less energetic than the few tracks preceding it. The maturity Trail Of Dead have developed may in some ways be preferable to the bands’ punkish Source Tags days, and Tao of the Dead is perhaps the best example of their developing sound since their major-label debut.

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