It is a curse that has befallen many a band; you create something that skirts so painfully close to genre smashing, life altering genius that it could spin the world off its axis and then spend an entire career trying to duplicate such greatness. Of course you go different avenues: you try out the electric mandolin as that’s what the kids are listening to; you even go through a proto-Goth phase as everyone loves a bit of maudlin angst but, despite coming close, you never again reach those dizzying heights.
After 2002’s career zenith, ‘Source Tags and Codes’, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead have struggled to attain the same level of critical and commercial acclaim from every subsequent release. ‘Worlds Apart’ merely doffed its cap at the majesty of what came before, rather than kicking it in the shins and taking the crown as a worthy successor. Follow up, ‘So Divided’, didn’t emit much of a spark either and the band is quick to acknowledge this with their website listing the album as ‘critically un-acclaimed’. And yet again, in anticipation of their latest release, all eyes are set on the band to recreate the same magical alchemy as their debut.
Opener ‘The Bells of Creation’ is text book Trail of Dead: a bountiful and epic musical voyage; a sprawling journey through styles and themes with the most grandiose of instrumentation behind it. Moving from a solitary piano note played over and over and building to a wondrous, beefy crescendo of noise, it is real fire in the belly stuff.
‘Festival Thyme’ is quite the antithesis to the opener in its simplicity. With a title that harks back to the dark ages, it is a jaunty two minute pop affair all peppered with piano and acoustic guitar. With a faint air of camp fire sing-along to it, it bounds along in the manner of an eager young puppy and is endearing in the extreme.
Whether their new album will emit the same kind of glorious, awe inspiring radiance as ‘Source Tags and Codes’ is debatable, yet this EP to whet the appetite of fans and to quell those beating hearts of anticipation heralds good things to come for Trail of Dead and their fans.