Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trail of Dead Live The Century of Self

After making a couple of albums that were just about impossible like, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead has returned with what has to be their most accessable and best album to date. The Century of Self is a return to form for a band that has always had so much potential but never quite lived up to it.

Far less mathy and technical than their previous efforts, The Century of Self  has a sense of, err, self that relishes the thought of being a record free to do what it wants to do. It's a huge record that has aspirations of world domination but knows that if things get too complicated it won't achieve that goal. So rather than just throw riff after riff into some sort of mathematical equation to generate an epic indie rock record, Trail of Dead goes about this by taking the idea of prog rock and smashing it together with a sense of accessibility. The results of this is The Century of Self  sounding like it's gargantuan in scope but still easy enough to latch onto so that the listener doesn't feel like they've been listening to the same song for over an hour.

For the most part their approach works as The Century of Self's grandiose nature is kept in check by songs and choruses that you can actually remember and want to remember. That being said, the band still manage to find a way to cram hundreds of riffs into their songs however, they are arranged in such a way that they make their impact in a subtle and non-annoying manner. "Isis Unveiled," is a perfect example as the song starts out in a bombastic barrage of guitars only to be broght down to earth by a choppy riff that will bash itself into your brain; it's a six minute epic that you can't and won't forget.

The Century of Self is a fantastic record that shows Trail of Dead developing (or redeveloping) a sense of what makes an album good. They've taken their ability to be godlike musicians and toned it down just a notch so that their songs make more of an impact. They still convince us that they can play and write songs bigger than the galaxy but now they do it within the framework of a song that's catchy and less complicated. Just about every song here is among the best they've ever written and I can honestly say this is the first Trail of Dead record I've found myself going back to because of how good it really is. They've outdone themselves here and The Century of Self  is easily their best album in a LONG time; perhaps, being dropped by Interscope was the best thing to have ever happened to them.

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