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

Ben Patashnik
Ben Patashnik 1 February 2011 at 14.20

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

...Trail Of Dead's seventh studio album is not far off perfect...

…Trail Of Dead albums always sound like a small slice of the apocalypse committed to disc and their seventh, with all its glory and bluster and boiling storms of noise, is no different. What is new this time, though, is that rather than the grinding intensity of their previous records, ‘Tao Of The Dead’ flows and rolls like a stoner’s adventure to the shops to buy some more Rizla – there are moments of peril, reflective joy and giddy excitement, and once it’s over you kind of want to do it all again.
That ‘Tao…’ was recorded in a fraction of the time of anything …Trail Of Dead have done before is evident in the way songs curl into one another. ‘Cover The Days Like A Tidal Wave’ and ‘Fall Of The Empire’ have a hazy ease to them which is pleasantly forgotten by the time the thundering ‘Weight Of The Sun’ rolls around, while ‘Strange News From Another Planet’, a 16-minute Side Two (its fathers intend ‘Tao…’ to be treated like an LP), is a wide-eyed trip through everything from 60s psych to 90s noise-rock with a Can-like Krautrock pulse. What made ‘Worlds Apart’ and ‘Source Tags & Codes’ such classics was the sense of doom the band whipped up while hammering merry hell out of their instruments, almost like they were trying to smother their melodies and batter us all into submission, but ‘Tao…’ is all about going with the flow of the song.
Take the perfectly titled ‘Ebb Away’ towards the end of the first part, or the intro to the record itself ‘Let Us Experiment’ – the old …Trail Of Dead might have been tempted to go oblique and pound out a blitzkrieg, but here they have a smooth, liquid momentum and blossom fluently. It does wonders for the flow of the album, and while several tracks would sit comfortably on a Best Of …Trail Of Dead playlist ‘Tao Of The Dead’ certainly feels like their most consistent collection in years. It’s defiantly old-school in its construction and conception, in that the band are keen it be digested whole rather than sliced up, but dipping in and out certainly loses none of the impact.
However, what makes ‘Tao…’ such an absolute joy is that the simplicity of the thing. Even if you don’t know (or don’t care) it was birthed by four friends jamming in a room together for a couple of weeks, even if you don’t give a shit about the politics of the songs or the worldview of its creators, there’s an undeniable fact at the core of this record: these dudes can write songs and play them with all their heart, and that’s all anyone can ever ask for.

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