...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are beginning anew. Look no further than the very first line rocketing of their recently released 6th studio try, The Century of Self (Justic/Richter Scale Records). Declaring "New Horizons, unclaimed lands await us beyond the walls of our cantonment" ("Far Pavilions"), Conrad Keely taps into one of the album's central themes from the get go. Free of their major label vice at Interscope Records, Trail of Dead reek of renewal, and in it, give their fans a rich, articulate, yet ultimately free flowing album in the process.
Sonically, The Century of Self is nothing less than an arena sized effort. Gigantic guitar overdubs, herculean drum parts, and swells of tsunami sized keys all provide the basic instrumental makeup, though how they violently buoy about songs like "Far Pavilions", "Bells of Creation", and "Ascending" is ultimately the band's greatest asset. Demanding their listeners traverse a dynamic trail throughout, the band wind and coil between the great heights of their most epic choruses and the subterranean depths of their more subdued break downs. Call it a bi-polar spirit that haunts most of this one, embodied most prominently by the album's six minute centerpiece, "Isis Unveiled".
With such a grand compositional statement on his hands, Keely - not surprisingly - meet's the rest of the band with a series of stories that make their own massive mark on the album. There are very few trials of day to day living that inhabit the lyrical scribbles of Century of Self. Instead, Keely's pen scratches out elaborate images of God, war, mythology, mysticism, and nature for his listener's consideration.
If all this sounds demanding, that's because it is. The Century of Self, like Trail of Dead's previous two albums (So Divided and Worlds Apart), is a complex and challenging listen. But Trail of Dead also make an effort to honor those who dig the straight and narrow, employing enough of their punk rock past to allow a more simple style of immersion to present itself. In the end, how you choose to absorb this one comes down to personal preference. Either way though, I guaranteed you'll find a way to lose your self in Trail of Dead's latest album. - David Pitz