Austin, Texas alternative rock outfit …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead have been putting out records for twenty years now.
Led by its chief members, Jason Reece and Conrad Keely, they’ve explored the many genres of rock, and they continue to demonstrate their unconventional approach with their tenth studio album, ‘X: The Godless Void And Other Stories’.
The record starts with a powerful tone on instrumental opener, ‘The Opening Crescendo’, in which a looped guitar, drum, and keyboard rift gets progressively louder and louder creating a sense of greatness to come. However, this is a bit misleading as the eleven tracks to follow are a mismatched blend of ideas that don’t quite belong together and feel drawn out at times.
One track that attempts to break the musical mould is ‘Something Like This’, which takes a slower more melancholy approach, which is perfectly suited to singer Conrad Keely‘s voice. In opposition to this, ‘Into The Godless Void’ feels uninspired lyrically and repetitive in its chorus structure. Still, having said this, musically it does demonstrate some very experimental moments of classic rock/electronic fusion.
Ultimately, ‘X: The Godless Void And Other Stories’ seems to suffer an identity crisis; from its cover and title you could guess some kind of metal or theatrical progressive rock record, and at points you would be correct. Take ‘Eye Of The Underworld’, for example, which is an ominous piano/drum track featuring monk-like humming which sets a very dark tone. Then listen to a track like ‘Don’t Look Down’, which draws from a more indie place, with a fast beat, grungy vocals, and a guitar-heavy melody, and it seems like you’re listening to two different bands.
This record would’ve been better served if …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead settled on a sound similar to that of the song ‘Gravity’, which blends the darker more theatrical tones of the album with the indie rock vibes that better suit the vocal work. There are some strong ideas and elements to ‘X: The Godless Void And Other Stories’, but it feels like it lacks a clear direction and could do with more fine tuning, as well as a more critical approach to song selection.
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