And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – So Divided

So DividedWoe betide the band that changes their usual sound. Worse of all, don’t be the band who signs to a major label, after a fairly successful independat career and then changes their sound. “Sellout” all the purists will cry! Well, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead know that they may only have themselves to blame. …TOD (as they will be known from now) signed to the hip Interscope label for the release of their Source Tags and Codes album in 2002. A personal change in 2004 (bassist Neil Bush out, replace with another drummer and keyboardist, as you do), meant that the band flexed their musical muscle in 2005 with World’s Apart, an overblown, epic rock record that bore little resemblence to their earlier, scratchy, lo-fi punk rock. Not that it was a bad record, there were numerous great songs on it. However the gentler tone meant that many were writting the band off for pandering to a major label. So just a year later, when after some soul searching, the band have released So Divided; an effort to claw back some lost ground or cred?

First of all, I should let you know I’m a big TOD fan; 1999’s Madonna was a big album for me, especially the blistering “Mistakes & Regrets”. Yes, the band don’t rock with as much anger, but there’s plenty to still enjoy from them. “Wasted State Of Mind” is a really great track, combining a jerky piano lead with some relentless tribal drumming, but it’s a song you can sing along with. It’s little things like the unusual percussion that make TOD stand out for me. “Naked Sun” is surprising as it starts off with a blues-y riff. Suddenly trumpets and brass come in and it’s full on. Eventually it breaks into an epic sounding closing that just enveloped me. “So Divided” doesn’t work that well, it’s a bit too long and seems aimless. “Life” is a measured, darker track with a rag-time piano lead.

“Eight Days of Hell” is a jaunt, rock n’roll number that just feels really out of place. So all in all, this is a bit of a mixed bag. The over the top arrangements of their last album have been reigned in, but maybe at the price of being able to just really let go during the songs. There’s no anger or fury that can match “Days Of Being Wild” or “Worlds Apart”. I’m not going to hold it against the band; they’re getting older like the rest of us and no one stays that angry for ever. Maybe the band can develop further, with the new expanded line-up there’s definately the musical muscle to back up their ideas.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Naked Sun:

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