Review: …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – The Century of Self

Ever since their extremely well received major label debut album Source, Tags, and Codes, Trail of Dead has been creating their ownnews3_0 brand of art rock that seems to set it self apart from much of the indie music scene. Although, many critics will tell you that the band has been somewhat of a disappointment ever since that critically acclaimed major label debut album, I don’t necessarily share that opinion. I for one, enjoyed Worlds Apart immensely, the album showed a band expanding their sound and meanwhile the production and songwriting were both excellent. So Divided, the band’s fifth album was and still is my least favorite effort of theirs but I think it still had some great moments. For example, I absolutely loved the cover of Guided By Voices classic ‘Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory’. In my opinion they really pulled a diamond from the rough with that song by taking a lo-fi track bursting with creative potential and took it all the way to epic status. All in all though the album just felt like a weaker version of Worlds Apart. So that brings us to the band’s sixth album, The Century of Self.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead has always elicited some unique imagery in my mind. For whatever reason this band is able to create a setting in my brain that conjures Victorian Europe among other things. So right off the bat, this band gets credit for picking up my noggin and setting it somewhere and sometime strange and foreign. The Century of Self, continues in this tradition, which I cannot for the life of me explain. So getting into observations that are a little more tangible, from a production standpoint this album is not terribly distinguishable from both Worlds Apart and So Divided. Also, these songs are not much different sonically than the last two albums. In fact, I found that many of the songs on this album just blended right in with the rest of the bands discography. Have you ever listened to a new song from a band that you enjoy tremendously and gotten that comfortable feeling that familiarity with a song brings even though it was your first time hearing it? Well that pretty well sums up this album. And I don’t mean to say that as a bad thing. There are some albums that a band releases that shake up everything you thought you knew about that band. Then there are albums like The Century of Self, where the song writing is solid and the music almost exactly what I expected and I don’t mind it one bit and truth be told I am kind of glad that they haven’t thrown that sound out just yet. That said, this album is every bit as solid as Worlds Apart and I don’t think there is a weak song on this album. It is a fantastic and musically interesting journey with influences being pulled from every direction yielding tracks that range from the anthemic and epic to the soft-spoken and subtle (albeit there is a bit less of that).

The Bottom Line:

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s sixth album The Century of Self is not by any means new territory for the band. If you haven’t heard them before now is just as good a time as any to jump in. If you have heard Trail of Dead before but wish they would go back to the days of Source, Tags, and Codes then I imagine this album is going to be a bit of a disappointment for you. However, for those that enjoyed Worlds Apart like I did, you may even come to like this album even more.

–Ben

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – The Century of Self: 8.7 out of 10.0

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~ by mediametric on April 1, 2009.

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