The layered extravagance and stylistic quirks of 2009’s The Century Of Self gave the impression that ...Trail Of Dead had ambitions to be a full-blown prog rock band. Perhaps mindful of that, they’ve made a partial return to the more stripped-down guitar overload of their early records on this, their seventh studio album.
Theirs is still a mind-expanding and all-encompassing sonic world, however, and even though this sticks fairly rigidly to the traditional rock format, the Texans’ horizons remain defiantly broad.
The swirling space-rock thuggery of Pure Radio Cosplay sets out the tone with typical force – a storm of urgent psychedelia that underpins songwriting of refreshing simplicity. Similarly, Summer Of All Dead Souls and The Wasteland restate the band’s commitment to creating both an unholy racket and melodic finesse, as insistent hooks burst, sunbeam-like, through a shimmering haze of distortion, runaway drums and pot-addled twinkle.
The real revelation comes in the form of the album’s sprawling 16-minute, five-song finale, Strange News From Another Planet, wherein dark clouds cast ominous shadows over a dense, kaleidoscopic sprawl of six-string clangour and Neu!-like metronomic throbbing.
As wilful and gripping as ever, this is the sound of a truly great band on blistering form.