... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am

... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Century of Self (Richter Scale)

After a couple of false starts last year, label rows and lingering doubts over whether the band would continue, the Austin, Texas, natives (below) have finally released their seventh album on their own imprint.

And to the relief of fans who despaired at their recent deviation from the power-punk path they set out on a decade ago, they have ditched the neo-prog synths and pianos for a fairly straight-up rock collection of ear-blasters.

Main man and lyricist Conrad Keeley is no longer fighting the wars of the warlocks in Dungeons and Dragons pursuits and instead focuses on political issues such as Irish nationalism (Giant's Causeway) and the international balance of power (the brilliant Far Pavilions).

Century of Self harks back to the band's scrappy early days and for Trail purists, this is as close as the band get to its 2002 masterpiece Source Tags & Codes. It also sees a return to the two-drum song-demolition technique, stop-start song structures and wailing vocals that made them so riveting in the first place. It falls down on melody; while the past three albums, which seemed to have found a home in the demi-monde of battling orcs and wizards, were pompous and overblown, they were chock full of great tunes.

This time round, as in early album Madonna, hummability has been sacrificed for sheer bloody-minded noise.