...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead have been playing it smart all these years, and here we were thinking they were just drunk assholes. Their infamous live set, which always resulted in destroyed gear sometimes after the first song was obviously just a ruse to prevent the inevitable backlash from their major-label jump. How else could they afford to keep touring except to have big money behind them?
Trail of Dead have signed with a major, and the sell-out rumblings have begun. But once fans hear the new EP, the group's first on Interscope and a teaser for their upcoming album, they won't find anything to disappoint them. Their first foray with the big boys is just as reckless, noisy and fantastic as their previous two albums. And it's even louder.
The EP's best song, "Relative Ways," is surprisingly deep and doesn't rely on volume as the hook, temporarily anyway. The pre-chorus incorporates a guitar riff that actually harmonizes with the vocal, although once the refrain erupts, all thoughts of texture disappear. Conrad Keely starts yelping while the cymbals crash, and the guitars somehow get even shriller until it all sinks to a mere din.
The EP includes two less memorable cuts, as well as the exceptionally energetic "Homage." The song's structure essentially boils down to screaming, a little tempo change, screaming, another tempo change, screaming and then a squealing guitar. In short, it's perfect.
Despite the quality of the music however, it's hard to imagine Interscope recouping on Trail of Dead. They are simply too unpredictable for the mainstream, not the contrived menace that labels can market. Busting guitars and tossing drum kits around the stage night after night admittedly loses its spontaneity after awhile, but it takes sincerity to transfer that passion and vigor to a recording which they do spectacularly here.