Album Reviews

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s X: The Godless Void And Other Stories – “Aggression consumed by elusive grandeur.”

The Texan stalwarts released their latest album in January this year – their first since singer Conrad Keely returned to the U.S. from his Cambodian sabbatical.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead are the best cult band in the world. That’s what fans of the ‘Deads will tell you. That’s what we will tell you. Devotees of the ‘Deads aren’t like insufferable Tool or Mars Volta aficionados who direct a misguided homage to nostalgia not limited to artistic aloofness and the so-called essence of prog.

No, sir.

…Trail Of Dead have spent two decades filling small clubs all around the world. Their fans don’t shout it from the rooftops, though.

They turn up to bear witness to a band forever evolving, fraying nerves and rag-dolling the collective conscience with Sonic Youth inspired interplay one minute, crushing Who-like hooks the next with gentle string-laden balladry thrown in for good measure.

The thing that separates …Trail Of Dead is their pervasiveness to cause that element of surprise. They’ve spent years carving out new worlds beyond the realms of stone-cold classics, Madonna and Source Tags & Codes, which were gale force slabs of artistic genius.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, …Trail of Dead have churned out a plethora of brilliance since – most notably the anthemic riddled Worlds Apart and 2012’s ray gun riff opera in Lost Songs. Now we can add X: The Godless Void And Other Stories to the pile of pleasantries.

Originally earmarked to be Conrad Keely‘s second solo album (his first, 2016’s Original Machines), these songs have been given the full …Trail of Dead treatment but it’s …Trail Of Dead version 2020.

Yet another shedding of skins for Austin, Texas’ finest purveyors of all things post-hardcore and indie rock with various other facets comprising this Molotov cocktail of noise.

It’s Keely‘s first album since returning to the United States after spending most of the last decade in Cambodia where he spent some time playing in boozers with country bands. The trademark …Trail of Dead template still thrives throughout The Godless Void. All Who Wander spins with scuzzed-up guitars and swirling pianos which have formed the underpinning of band’s finest moments.

Aggression consumed by elusive grandeur.

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - X: The Godless Void And Other Stories

Something Like This is a melodic lament held together by a gentle riff that encapsulates the new terrain …Trail Of Dead have decided to embark on.  The other creative half of …Trail of Dead, Jason Reece, arrives with Into the Godless Void, where he jumps from beyond the drum kit to unleash those unique gravel-throated yelps. His voice still sounds as strong as ever.

Don’t Look Down spits and splutters with a swerving bassline and sci-fi inspired interludes providing an aesthetic akin to dystopian proto-pop. Albums highlights Children of the Sky and Gravity reveal Keely’s vocal performance as one of his strongest conceived from the vaults.

The essence of both numbers have that morose campfire-song feel to them, only to be transformed into immersive fevered musings that render as the album’s shining beacons. Particular the former, where Keely sings “That smile, and memories of a time/How we cruel people never really learn/And when I got home that dawn to learn you had gone/Never to return.” Some of his strongest lyrics yet.

The final two tracks are just as strong.

Blade of Wind pummels with rollicking bass and grumbling pianos and that thumping chunk of guitar that …Trail of Dead have made their own for the past two decades. The track wouldn’t look out of place on Source Tags & Codes.

Through the Sunlit Pianos concludes the album. A raucous anthemic number that fittingly ends this journey, it exudes that feeling …Trail of Dead have always given us.

Those trademark chord structures and lung-busting choruses that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The true feeling of artistic expression getting under your skin and staring you in the eye and having a conversation.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead have always made music that talks to you and with X: The Godless Void And Other Stories that conversation very much continues.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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