Wednesday, October 17, 2012

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes

Release Date: February 26, 2002

It Was There That I Saw You
Another Morning Stoner
How Near, How Far
Relative Ways
Source Tags & Codes

It’s probably been about ten years since I first heard ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. They were the musical guests on Conan’s show some time ago. A much simpler time; back when I was still in college and Conan still hosted good musical acts... But I digress. Singer, Conrad Keely, doesn’t have the strongest of voices, but the energy Trail of Dead played “Relative Ways” with was so infectious I drove over to Vinyl Fever (RIP) the very next day to pick up a copy of their new and critically acclaimed album, Source Tags and Codes. It did not disappoint.

After the introductory instrumental, the first full song, “It Was There That I Saw You,” could be seen as Trail of Dead’s mission statement, an extraordinary blend of 70’s glam, post-hardocre and those excellent quiet/loud dynamics established during the 90’s; the pinnacle of the track comes during the instrumental passage about halfway through, where Conrad Keely and Jason Reece dual it out with guitar arpeggios, trading punch for punch before chaos erupts. “Another Morning Stoner,” the highlight of the album, almost solely relies on those guitar arpeggios from start to end, which allows the drums and bass to not only carry the melody, but the shift in dynamics from soft to loud. On the late 90’s screamo-sounding “Homage,” Keely displays how effortlessly he can go from quiet croon to guttural howl. “How Near, How Far” foregoes the standard 4/4 for a near constant snare-fill beat, driving the song momentously to a signature instrumental interlude before chaos ensues. Curtain call and title track “Source Tags and Codes” is the album’s softest entry; the distorted guitar picking melodies give it an undercurrent of gloomy discord, and the minute-long strings outro mimicking “How Near, How Far” cap off a damn near flawless hard-rock record.

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