Album #13: … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – X: The Godless Void and Other Stories

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Label: InsideOut
  • Best Track: Don’t Look Down

It’s a shame that over time, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead’s once awesome name has come to sound a bit post-2000 emo. The turn of the millennium saw bands with names like Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) and The Number Twelve Looks Like You come along, so we got used to ridiculously long, nonsensical band names, and associated a particular kind of music with them.

Of course, … Trail of Dead’s name is not nonsensical, it’s thought-provoking, and they’ve stuck with it since the mid-1990s. Back then, it sounded unusual and intriguing, making them a band you wanted to check out before you knew anything else about them.

I’ve always rather liked what I’ve heard from the band without really embracing it, so an early 2020 release gives me a chance to get back in tune with them. This is the tenth album (hence the ‘X’ in its title) from the Texan alt-rockers with a bent towards the cinematic, and their first in six years.

I think every …Trail of Dead album I’ve heard by them starts with an atmospheric instrumental, and this one is no different with ‘The Opening Crescendo’ getting things underway. This leads into the psychedelia-tinged ‘All Who Wander’, where Conrad Keely’s vocals sound a little like Liam Gallagher’s to me.

Typically, my favourite track on this album is probably the most basic – the simple, driving chord progression on ‘Don’t Look Down’ makes my early ‘Best Songs of 2020’ playlist.

Later in the album, ‘Who Haunts the Haunter’ is another peak moment, bubbling and broiling before launching into a resounding crescendo. I’ve never seen these live but I imagine them to be a real assault on the senses.

It’s an album that needs more time than I’ve given it so far, but …Trail of Dead are as strong as ever here. One of many bands for me to file under “need to hear more of”.

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