An album thoroughly recommended for those who like to think while they rock out
Lou Thomas 2009-02-27
Austin, Texas has produced its fair share of exciting rock acts from The 13th Floor Elevators to Explosions In The Sky but few are quite as intense as …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead in full flight.
The band's third album, 2002's Sources, Tags & Codes, brought them critical plaudits for their powerful post-grunge stoner-rock while references to philosophers like Baudelaire proved intellect went hand in hand with volume.
Sixth album The Century Of Self, then, is an attempt to woo punters and critics back to the band after the two previous records were met by indifference.
Trail Of Dead chief Conrad Keely and his bandmates succeed, as it's easily the best thing they've made since S,T & C and arguably almost its equal.
Far Pavilions is the first sweet but barbaric statement of intent on the album. Listeners may give the speakers a standing ovation upon hearing the guitars. They give the track a mellifluous menace tone akin to a hate-fuelled Ben Folds Five.
Isis Unveiled is a multi-part epic with the dirty swagger of prime Queens Of The Stone Age and the soaring riffs of Black Rebel Motorcyle Club. Fields of Coal is a happier beast with a rebellious Celtic tone. It's the closest Trail of Dead will get to a lighters-aloft anthem.
Chris Coady’s production is excellent. Each crescendo, tempo, key and beat change works impeccably. Pianos, guitars, handclaps and vocals are all given their own space. This may seem minor but far too many modern rock albums are at least partly spoiled by over-production or lack of imagination in the studio.
The only real condern is that…Self hasn't really moved things on. Pictures Of An Only Child sounds like Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun from 1994. The six men in Trail Of Dead can create superior rock music and have ideas, so why not push things forward?
This concern doesn't detract greatly from what is still an album thoroughly recommended for those who like to think while they rock out. But on the seventh record it would be pleasing to hear the band progress.