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And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead - The Century of Self

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead, The Century of Self

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AND You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead (or Trail of the Dead for ease of typing!) return to their roots with new album, The Century of Self, having got rid of their label and come over all independent.

And they’re being defiant, as Conrad Keely, one of two primary and founding members of the band, declares: “We finally have the artistic freedom we’ve wanted, with no pressure to create radio music, no legal department to OK our artwork and no A&R people breathing down our neck.”

The above statement goes some way to explaining why The Century of Self is such a sprawling, all-encompassing affair. It aspires to grandeur, but only occasionally reaches it. But it is epic in every sense.

“The new songs are also very personal,” continues Keely. “Some of them are autobiographical. We’re building on everything we’ve ever done, looking back on our whole career and taking a lot of inspiration from our early music. We continue to evolve the concept and try to incorporate new ideas.

“And there was no point on the record where we were trying to write songs you’d hear on commercial radio. We know that singles are driving the market, and we don’t care.”

They might do, though, as the album lacks a really compelling focal point… a track to jump out, fire your imagination and really force you to stand up and shout out about it. Rather, in wanting to be defiant and free, they also run the risk of sounding pretentious and self-pleasing.

Instrumental album opener Giants Causeway is a wall of noise that doesn’t really go anywhere, while The Far Pavilions combines power riffs and shouty choruses with a sense of bands like Sum 41 and Third Eye Blind.

Thereafter, it’s a fairly long journey with none too many real highs. Isis Unveiled is fairly rousing, there’s a sombre piano to enliven Bells of Creation (one of the real highlights), and Inland Sea mixes tempos nicely. Album closer Insatiable Two also brings the curtain down nicely, starting off with the sounds of a demented circus and ending with an echoed sing-along.

But on the whole, this flatters to deceive. It’s loud, brash, epic, intimate… many things at once, without being a compelling whole.

Download picks: Bells of Creation, Insatiable Two, Inland Sea

Track listing:

  1. Giants Causeway
  2. Far Pavilions
  3. Isis Unveiled
  4. Halcyon Days
  5. Bells Of Creation
  6. Fields Of Coal
  7. Inland Sea
  8. Luna Park
  9. Pictures Of An Only Child
  10. Insatiable One
  11. Ascending
  12. August Theme, An
  13. Insatiable Two