Listeners could always depend on …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead to release solid albums that have just as much melody as they do noise, just as much soul as they do thrash and are just as blithe as they are intense.
The über-talented rockers from Austin, Texas, have carved out a niche for themselves in the music world that ensures their clout in the realm of passion-punk. After all, you don’t just listen to Trail of Dead — you experience them.
Though the band has been recording since the mid-1990s, it didn’t achieve the level of success and acclaim it deserved until 2002’s Source Tags & Codes, the group’s third studio album. From post-punk to progressive rock, Trail of Dead has always incorporated numerous elemental genre styles into its music, yet underneath all the noise are beautiful melodies and a tight musical execution that only a skilled band would be able accomplish.
Trail of Dead has long been churning out virtually perfect albums that have hardcore intensity but the melodic foundation of alt-rock. The group pulls off this stylistic collocation effortlessly, and the result is music that transports the listener to a thoroughly enjoyable mental circle pit of epicness.
The band has perfected the noise, melody and dramatics that complement its post-punk sound, and Lost Songs is no exception to this winning formula. The band’s eighth studio album is chock-full of the careful chaos that defines the band, with the meticulous instrumentalism and melodies weaving through the pitch-perfect yells of frontmen Jason Reece and Conrad Keely.
Recorded over the summer in Hanover, Germany, Lost Songs focuses on social issues of justice, war, apathy and oppression.
The album kicks off with the pounding “Open Doors,” a powerhouse of an opener that wastes absolutely no time in throwing the listener into the characteristically intense Trail of Dead universe. Though the dramatic hard-rock sound is what Trail of Dead is best known for, the band changes up its sound in Lost Songs.
The unflinching command of songs, such as “Place To Rest” and “Pinhole Cameras,” is juxtaposed with the heavy and mysterious “Flower Card Games” and the breezy yet nerve-wracking guitars of “Time And Again.”
The band keeps things interesting with “Awestruck,” a surprisingly basic and beautiful alt-rock song, with the musical hints of frenzy and threats of tumult never fully materializing. This parallelism is unified in its aural experience — the steadily frantic drums are the star in “Opera Obscura’s” intensity, and to have that kind of hard drive be effortlessly tied together with the simplicity of “Awestruck” is the kind of talent Trail of Dead has honed for years.
If there’s one thing Trail of Dead knows how to do, it’s tipping points — each song is intertwined with the band’s trademark intense climax, either driving and heavy or soft and cryptic, but never losing its place. The deep buildup of “Bright Young Things” sounds like delightful chaos at first listen, yet somehow the band manages to never miss a note or a beat. Sharp musicianship is its own entity with Trail of Dead, and Lost Songs manages to be musically painstaking, yet not overly produced.
As Keely writes on the band’s official website, “The music was partly inspired by the apathy to real world events that has plagued the independent music scene now for over a decade. It was also inspired by artists such as the Cure, KARP, Ros Sereysothea, Human League, Hildegard von Bingen, and a few others. We feel that because the lyrics can say more about the album than we could, we would simply share them with you.”
Keely also took the time to dedicate the album to artists who fought in the face of oppression, including feminist Russian punk-rock group Pussy Riot. Three members of the collective were arrested earlier this year for staging an impromptu performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, and though one member was released on probation with her sentence suspended earlier this month, the other two women have had their two-year imprisonment sentences upheld. The incident has gained much attention around the world, and the notion of free speech has once again become a hot topic of debate in the art world.
Regarding Lost Songs, Keely states, “We would like to dedicate our efforts to Pussy Riot, and any and all artists who have attempted to exercise their creativity under the oppression of government, as well as the endemic oppression of an indifference to passion present in our mainstream culture.”
Trail of Dead has once more refined its punk sensibilities with Lost Songs — for a band known for making pummelling and heavy music, Trail of Dead never leaves behind its flair to decorate its noise with intricate musical compositions. Lost Songs is an unwavering testament to the band’s acclaim and, in the group’s trademark style, creates a new world for the listener to willingly get lost in. With all the intensity, drive and passion the band conjures in listeners, it’s impossible not to feel more alive than ever when walking the Trail of Dead.