Since 1994, Austin’s …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead has had no issue stirring things up. Banned from the state capitol, getting into a war of words with music journalists at times, the band has never shied from defending their work. But for a while, the band has kept their proggy alt rock sound going, steering into new territories away from what they were once known for. On their new album X:The Godless Void and Other Stories, they’ve returned swinging. The grandiose nature of the band means they need a real budget to go big, and with this album they go to their biggest place yet.
It should be noted that the twelve song album is a stunner for fans and a return to form for casual listeners. The epic scale of instrumentation utilized alone is immaculate. Embarking on the journey, the opening track “The Opening Crescendo” feels like what an album by these guys should sound like. Slow build, tons of instruments clanging before the song begins, it’s all here and it’s all glorious. The following track “All Who Wander” is the new chapter while never deterring from those Worlds Apart vibes. There may not be two drummers this time, but the sound is just as full and at times, over the top. The murky bass that opens the song meets an arrangement that befits Conrad Keely’s vison, opening into a grand scale of tones and melody.
The whole album plays out as such, signalling that Trail of Dead is back and ready to come as hard as they did while battling the major label system. The gnarled and bombastic structures of “Into the Godless Void” offer plenty of remembrances without sounding dated. That way the band beats skins like they’re on a stolen kit, the guitars clamoring like a drowning victim; the return is welcomed and invigorating in its presence. This gets followed by the more melodic and heavily structured upbeat stride of “Don’t Look Down,” another song you’ll place on repeat.
The way it still feels like the band is charting new territory on “Children of the Sky,” the atmospheric presence of “Gravity” and the electro-prog graces of “Blade of Wind” lend themselves to a band that realizes that it can’t all be big rock songs either. In many ways it feels like the band has grown up while bringing their immaculate arrangements with them. But with all of these new tones, the best song of the album comes on “Through the Sunlit Door.” Bringing that big wound up opening that the band does so well, the changes in direction that occur here are on another level. Fluid with progressive notations, fantasy rock undercurrents and well placed graces of tone, the band mixes their past with their presence in a way that feels authentic and without hesitation.
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories is available to purchase directly from Dine Alone Records. It’s also available to stream on all streaming sites and to purchase digitally wherever you download music. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead will be on tour beginning January 17 at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles, CA until March 11 at The Horn in Saint Albans, UK. The band’s complete tour schedule is accessible here.
Image Credits: Photo by Viktor Scott.