Back on track.

Leaving a label and going independent can go one of two ways, either a swift slide in to obscurity or a renewal and reassessment of a band’s sound , “The Century of Self” is looking good for ...Trail of Dead’s foray into independence, but only time will tell.

Album opener ‘Giants Causeway’ is a great way to begin; sounding more like the epic and heavy ...Trail of Dead than they have for quite some time which is a huge improvement on their previous two records and more like the old school sound of say, their debut self-titled record or their sophomore offering “Madonna”. The record is tuneful yet has heavy riffs and uses a more aggressive vocal approach than they’ve employed in recent years. The six and a half minute ‘Isis Unveiled’ has a moment or so of full on sweeping abandon and the whole record has a rough and raw production sound giving them back some of that almost lo-fi edge.

Tracks like ‘Fields of Coal’ and ‘Ascending’ are upbeat and melodic without being soft, the multi-layered vocals work really well (in fact they are one of the best features on the record) and a full, anthemic sound makes them really catchy. ‘Inland Sea’ flows really well from a gentle verse washed in fuzzy guitars to a tuneful chorus and really solid percussion heavy instrumental sections, ‘Luna Park’ has a sweet tune (slightly reminiscent of really old school Primal Scream in places) enhanced by piano and a guitar sound that echoes nicely, the piano lead two minute track ‘Insatiable One’ is riveting stuff, just lovely.

Despite some really decent moments it’s not all fantastic, ‘Bells of Creation’ is a bit directionless, teasing heavy and epic but never satisfying on either front, the psychedelic feel of ‘Halcyon Days’ is a little too cheesy and towards the end of the album you may start to feel as if you’ve heard some of the tracks before. Knowing how good ...Trail of Dead once were, especially on their breakthrough record “Source Tags & Codes” which is sparklingly brilliant (and obviously hard to follow) makes this record a bit frustrating at times because they never quite reach those dizzy heights, however, overall it does feel like the band are moving in the right direction again and those tracks that are really good definitely make it well worth a listen.