What a great name for a band. I’m pretty sure it was that ridiculous name, coupled with the even more ridiculous band photo I saw in a magazine that I wish I could find right now, that made me want to check them out in the first place. I’ve loved these guys since I was a teenager, and discovering that they have, in fact, made new music in the last five years that I haven’t heard yet is a great excuse to talk about them.
This is one of those times when I hate how pervasive the internet is. Ten years ago I was quite happy listening along to World’s Apart and So Divided, my favourite …Trail of Dead albums. That shit was amazing. Today I do a cursory search of the band and discover that those albums are supposed to be terrible, their creative nadir, and everything that came before and after them is much better than that rubbish. Well, fuck that noise. Those are fantastic albums, full of amazing songs, and for me …Trail of Dead have never sounded better. So I kind of wish I didn’t know that I’m the only one who thinks so. Not that it’s going to change my mind, but now I feel this added layer of self-righteous “I’m right and they’re wrong” on top of it all, and who needs that kind of negativity?
Anyway, …Trail of Dead are awesome. They sound like nothing else that I listen to, and I love that. I love the pretentiousness (and believe me, whatever spews out of my mouth next will be nothing if not pretentious). I love the way they build upon a theme, musically I mean, in a way that reminds me of classical music, just build and build until you’re on the brink, and leave you hanging there on the edge of a cliff. I love the way the drums roll downhill, and I love the cymbal-crashing cacophany of noise. I love the clarity that can be found in their lyrics beneath all the chaos. “Will You Smile Again” is the most amazing ode to being a tortured genius, to the self-involved agony of being so brilliant that you can’t even deal and end up drowning under the weight of it all because you can’t get out of your own way. Apparently it was inspired by Smile-era Brian Wilson, which makes a tonne of sense to me.
Anyhow, me sounding like a twat about music isn’t new, the new is that until today I hadn’t listened to anything they’d released since The Century of Self in 2009. So to catch up I’ve been blasting their most recent album IX today. I like it. I like it a lot. As with a lot of …Trail of Dead it takes quite a few listens to unravel the impenetrable noise in order to find the songs underneath. But I feel like I’m there now, and these are good songs. There’s something about Conrad Keely’s voice. I guess on the surface that something is that “it’s terrible”, but it’s terrible in an effective, jarring, punk rock way. The triple threat of “Lie Without A Liar”, “The Ghost Within” and “The Dragonfly Queen” is a hell of a thing. “Bus Lines” may be the best song on there, and reminds me of their World’s Apart-era output in its theme of melancholy reflection. And the two instrumentals are really floaty, rollicking pieces of music, and again that kind of classical-style development of a tune is something I love most about them.
But by far the greatest thing I’ve discovered about this band today is that THEY’RE COMING HERE! They’re going on an Australian tour next month, playing at Manning Bar where I went to uni, which is just amazing on so many levels. I am so happy I looked these guys up today instead of two months from now, or I’d have missed them entirely. I’m going to see …Trail of Dead! I never imagined I’d be able to check them off my band bucket list, but here we are. So, so happy.