...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Tao Of The Dead
Tao of the Dead is the seventh album from Texas noiseniks …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and, let’s not beat about the bush, it's a prog rock album. It may be a punk rock-infused collage of psychedelia, feedback laden guitars and classic rock stylings but most of all it is a gloriously OTT prog epic of mid-70s proportions.
The dreamy ‘A: Introduction: ''Let's Experiment’ elegantly kicks things off and immediately proves this is not an album of the loud, shouty indie/punk of their earlier efforts but a truly unexpected homage to the much-maligned art of the concept album. With its alphabetised song titles and repeated themes you feel this is an album that Rush could have made in the late 70s had they been slightly more inclined towards a self-destructive punk ethic. This does mean that there is a tendency to meander aimlessly in places, particularly on ‘F. Wasteland’ and ‘G. Spiral Jettys’. But those dips are soon forgotten as album highlight ‘H. Weight of the Sun (or the Post-Modern Prometheus)’ opens as a gently lilting, toe-tapping ballad interspersed with bursts of sheer volume that reminds you of just how enthralling Trail of Dead have been and can be.
The wigged out space of ‘K: The Fairlight Pendant’ brings the album to its apparent and logical conclusion but no, there is more. ‘Tao of the Dead Part two: Strange News From Another Planet’ distils the themes and rhythms of the previous eleven songs into one, 16 minute epic that is a wonderfully fitting coda to an album of unabashed experimentation.
Perfect this isn’t, but Tao of the Dead is the sound of a band unafraid to take risks with both their sound and the willingness of their fan base to come along for the ride. Risktaking of this kind is an increasingly rare beast and Trail of Dead are to be applauded for such an unusually refreshing approach to their craft.