And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Tao Of The Dead

12 songs
52:17 minutes
***** ****


A lot of things have been going on with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead in the two years since their last record The Century Of Self. First of all, the band stripped down to a quartet, and the cover artwork, again designed by vocalist Conrad Keely, is much more colourful that the ballpoint drawn picture of the predecessor. Recorded in only ten days, Tao Of The Dead successfully tries to capture a more direct spirit, but that doesn’t prevent it from being once again an inscrutable piece of music. Not that the band would have tried for anything else.

Tao Of The Dead basically consists of two long pieces. Part One is actually a suite consisting of eleven tracks that more or less feel like different songs but segue into one another. Part Two has a more holistic feeling and takes up only one track on the CD despite its five-parted structure.

This time Trail Of Dead claim to have been inspired by prog and kraut rock, which actually makes sense, even though at times they can just rock straight ahead, as for instance on the abrasive Pure Radio Cosplay whose beginning reminds me somewhat of the Rolling Stones’ Jumping Jack Flash. Like so many great prog epics from the Seventies, Tao Of The Dead is also intended to be listened to as a whole. Part One alone takes up already thirty-six minutes of the album, and even though conceptually this is all quite a self-indulgent mess, the result is still very much listenable as the quartet took care to give the different movements enough independence to make them also work as regular songs. The sixteen and a half minute long Part Two on the other hand gives the band more room to freely experiment, and why not allow them this quirk after the first great half hour of music. While not as catchy as the first part, this is still a rewarding experience that fitfully concludes another great album by this seemingly infallible modern prog band from the United States. Tao Of The Dead, while certainly not reinventing the band with this truly long name, is still a masterpiece that definitely stands out strong in the morass of averageness that we are succumbed to these days.

Back to Reviews