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Texan rockers, Trail Of Dead, mosey back into town, Guns blazing!,
This review is from: The Century Of Self (Audio CD)
Chameleonic noise-masters, Trail Of Dead, have always been a little difficult to pigeonhole. From being hailed as post-rock heroes, to grandiose noise-rockers, and alternately slammed as pseudo artrock sell-outs, and pro-tooled prog-pretenders, they have also been hard to follow as a fan. Many were disappointed with 2006's straight-up, slickly produced, So Divided, in spite of, or perhaps because it so unashamedly kicked arse with not so much as a backward glance at their more experimental moments.
You see, like So Divided, Trail Of Dead perennially split opinions with each new release. What is considered overly polished stadium rock by some, is viewed as shambolic, meandering noise to those at the other end of the spectrum of both fans and music press. ToD occupies a middle ground that is more No Man's Land than compromise, for there is no happy medium.
New release, and sixth studio album, The Century Of Self, will doubtlessly do likewise, but it is by far more likely to unite fans of the band's earlier work, such as Source Tags and Madonna, and those who enjoyed their last recording, for the bile and energy is still ever-present, but so is their more orchestral prog-tinged noise for which they were once so revered in somewhat geekier circles. The glossy sheen of past two records is still present, but there is something more of their organic roots herein; there is a connection between musicians unbroken by studio partitions.
The Century Of Self is a piece. It's what an album should be - and perhaps needs to be in the era of the playlist - and that is a complete work of complimentary and interrelated songs rather than a series of individual tracks. Listening to this album track-by-track would be like listening to separate movements from a symphony or pulling the legs off a crane fly.
As you can therefore imagine, the band had their sights firmly set on producing something worthy of the term `epic' when composing and producing this record. It is sweeping, luxurious, highly polished and it soars high above its contemporaries, but never quite breaks through the glass ceiling into the stratospheric realms of Arcade Fire's Intervention, or The Mars Volta's Inertiatic ESP.
Though still exuberant, curious and exploratory, Trail Of Dead foremost set about pleasing themselves, and though the wax melts on their wings before they quite meet their zenith, they leave an impressive fable in their wake none-the-less.