Let me be the first to say welcome back …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead.

Source Codes & Tags and Worlds Apart are two of the most epic albums any band could create back to back and then these Texans just went nowhere. The follow-up’s (2006’s So Divided and 2009’s The Century of Self) felt like a band that lost their moo. There were moments on each and Self definitely felt a little like the Dead that I knew but mostly they felt like aimless exercises from a band with no creative direction. (Ouch, right?)

Tao Of The Dead sounds like the Trail of Dead that I know and love is finally back.  “Introduction: Let Us Experiment” is an instrumental builder that leads to “Pure Radio Cosplay” which is classic Dead with its’ driving rhythm lines escalating to an explosive breakdown. (If you listen closely, you might hear more than a little resemblance to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in there…) Keep your ears open for the “Cosplay” reprise later in the album, too. And can I just say: Aren’t reprises great?

Anyway, first single “Summer Of All Dead Souls” is definitely an extension of Worlds Apart with  a bouncing beginning leading to some classic stop/start action during the verses. From “The Wasteland”‘s acoustic mid-tempo flow through to “The Spiral Jetty”‘s electronic dreaminess and the aggressive “Weight of the Sun”, there is no doubt that …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead have found their way again.

The 16 minute closer (“Strange News From Another Planet”) alone is worth the price of admission…or a CD/vinyl/digital download. C’mon! You know what I mean. You know how most bands have like a 16 or 17 minute long last track and it equates to 1 song and 1 hidden song you have to wait 8 minutes to hear? Not Trail Of Dead! “Strange News…” is a song broken up into 5 parts and uses all 16 and half minutes to its fullest to give fans (And Tao of the Dead) the epic album ender they deserve.

I know I’ve said it here already but 2011 is shaping up to be one helluva year for music.

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