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: