Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, Dec 19th, 2014

…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: IX

and you will…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
(Superball Music)

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IX, the ninth LP by one of Texas’ most ambitious rock bands, probably will not become most fans’ favorite Trail of Dead album. The group debuted on a major label with Source Tags & Codes, and many hark back to that record as the best. I’m a Worlds Apart girl myself, but I’ve been able to find the glory in the band’s noisy impulses and orchestral moments.

The great disappointment of IX is that some songs just didn’t capture my attention, and when a band is so infused with imagery and symbolism, that’s tough. The first few songs are musically satisfying, filled with confident drumming and energetic guitar, but slow, subdued vocals sink into the background. It’s only on the fourth track, “Lie Without a Liar,” when the guitar is more subdued, that I began to tune in again. Here the vocal track is a bit distant, but the strain here works well.

A snaky guitar riff and shimmering strings make “The Dragonfly Queen” hypnotic from the start, which leads well into the gorgeous “How To Avoid Huge Ships.” So often the music of the band is the most engaging element, so the slow build of the orchestration provides welcome respite from all the stomping drums and brazen guitar. “Bus Lines” comes back in with noisy guitar, but runs the risk of falling into the mundane until the repetition of “Feels like torture/Get me off the bus.” Just shy of the four minute mark, harmonizing gives way to clattering guitar and belted vocals that hit on an emotional level. Shortly after, “Like Summer Tempests Came His Tears” satisfies those loyal to Trail of Dead’s more baroque instrumental tendencies.

I may not love every song of IX, but I love that a band so strange and intriguing is still pushing itself without the backing of a major label. It may not win new fans, but most should still remain loyal.

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…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: IX