And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – X, The Godless Void And Other Stories: Album Review

Release Date:  17th January 2020

Label: Inside Out

Formats: CD, digipack CD, vinyl

Six years on from their IX album, the Texan art-rock punk mothertruckers, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead… are back with a vengeance on their tenth.

Not only their landmark tenth album but the band also celebrates 25 years with a tremendous tour de force housed in another of Conrad Keely’s iconic album art creations that combines the spiritual mysticism with a blast of primal punk energy.

It’s the album where Conrad Keely sets down a record built on  “the sadness of moving away from a place I’d loved” along with the desire to create the sort of pop music he wishes was on the radio. Indeed, there’s a certain accessibility and concession to brevity as the band has conjured up a sonically expansive yet concise philosophy. In a nutshell, if I heard this on the radio, the speakers would probably melt.

The return from Cambodia to Austin seems to have been the inspiration for the theme of loss and leaving behind a significant part of your life – “a new vigour and excitement” is mentioned – and it’s the noisy title track that picks up on the idea of what Jason Reece has called “the existential woe that all humans tend to go through.

W the gestation, a familiar musical template provides the core with a few tweaks that show how the band has moved on since  2014’s IX and having toured to commemorate twenty years since Madonna (the album, not….yeah, you know the score).

A drama in the introductory fanfare aptly titled Opening Crescendo that sets up the album with musical motifs set for a revisit. On the path we get a Don’t Look Down that skirts round heavier REM/ guitar garage band territory and with Gravity, we get to appreciate the aim to write something more pop-orientated. The brief piano-led opening to Gone evolves into a towering but controlled crescendo built around a cry of “it’s all gone” desperation and there’s a feeling of towering pride in the grandiloquent Blade Of Wind and the big suspense drama of Who Haunts The Haunter.

Finally, there’s an ethnic tremor cuts a vein through Through The Sunlit Door that strangely seems to be just missing a bit of banjo; there may even be some hidden deep within.

An album full of bombast and with enough in the tank to vary the sonic palette, a genuinely exacting (and exciting) return to form for the Trail Of Dead.

I for one can’t wait to catch them up close in the small space of Manchester’s Night & Day Café in March.

Watch the official video for Into The Godless Void from the album here:

…Trail Of Dead online:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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