Of all the bands to produce a sub par, hesitant and muddled album …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead is the last one most would have expected. Stranger still is the fact that both mainstream and underground music media are daftly enamored with Worlds Apart, the latest installment from the Olympia, Wash.,-based progressive rock trio. Unfortunately, comfort and commiseration with such aggrandizing will not be offered here. On Worlds Apart, Trail of Dead attempts to rebottle the dynamism that was the lifeblood of 2002’s Source Tags & Codes, losing the original magnetism and potency of the sprawling layers of operatic melodrama coupled with anthemic romance, fury and sheer volume. Distilled in this way, Trail of Dead’s quest for grandeur pans out as a predictably formulaic one.
The instrumentation and arrangements on Worlds Apart are disappointing, sounding mid-’90s alternative rock at best. It is here where Trail of Dead holds back, opting for what ultimately results in a kind of contrived beauty instead of the propulsive guitar assault that has been the foundation of its sound. When vocalist Conrad Keely is not being drowned out by orchestral and occasional choral bombast, or wavering beneath post-production sheen, he evokes thoughts of Oasis’ Liam Gallagher.
Three albums came to mind immediately following the end of Worlds Apart that reduce it to child’s play: Sigur Ros’ Von, Mogwai’s Young Team and Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation. Though Von and Young Team are significantly less guitar-driven – and Daydream Nation employs the guitar almost exclusively – these albums achieve success, whereas Trail of Dead shoots for the stars and falls short on Worlds Apart. Trail of Dead cannot reconcile the staggering nature of its song content nor the amount of time requisite for complete song realization and development. Trail of Dead’s more-successful contemporaries are not hastened by time; instead, they permitting listeners to experience the thickening of aural tension, the anticipation of crescendos and the purposeful ebb of one song into the next. Worlds Apart on the other hand, clocks in at roughly 50 minutes: 12 tracks, a prelude, two interludes – all three needless. In short, Trail of Dead sacrifices the potential of songs that deserve better treatment.
[Jory Dominguez will win that Motley Crue mirror if it fucking kills him.]