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And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead


Post hardcore, alternative rock, indie rock, progressive rock, math rock, art rock, noise rock: these are the genre labels on Trail Of Dead’s Wikipedia page. It’s fair to say that every rock genre has been levelled at the Texan band across their 15 year, 9 album lifetime, and tonight they bring quite a few of them to the party in the claustrophobic confines of the Ruby Lounge. Last time I saw Trail of Dead it was at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, and it was one of the most raucous, fun gigs I’ve ever been too, being down the front and getting battered around as the crowd flung themselves into every song the band played. That was around 2009 when they were supporting their Century Of Self album, a much heralded return to form after the disappointing previous two albums when they tried to follow up their perfect 10 Pitchfork rated masterpiece Source Tags & Code and, in all honesty, failed. It says something that tonight’s gig in support of album number nine (entitled, handily, IX) contains just one song from the period between Source Tags and Century Of Self.

 It’s churlish to want for my favourite songs that they missed out tonight, given they have nine albums to choose their set from (what, not ‘Isis Unveiled’?! No ‘Baudelaire?!’), because what they deliver is a energetic, career-spanning set that touches on nearly all their albums, and belies their advancing age (lead singer/guitarist is Conrad Keely is 42..ancient in the rock world!). They begin with a trio of new songs in ‘A Million Random Digits’, ‘Jaded Apostles’ and ‘The Lie Without A Liar’, which the crowd respond well to but, a bit like the band, they don’t seem that into it. They bring on members of the support band for ‘Jaded Apostles’, one dude is topless and sporting a skeletal tattoo of his own insides across his torso (pretty neat), who thump floor toms creating a shuddering beat though the venue. Then the band launch into ‘Awestruck’ and an brilliant ‘Another Mourning Stoner’ and things liven up both on stage and down the front of the crowd, long haired rockers banging their heads as Keely and co smash the shit out of the PA system.

‘Homage’ is brutal, almost thrash metal, Keely beaming as the crowd go for it. ‘We’re just about warmed up’ he grins at the end, to a delighted throng at the front, and after a brief apology for a couple of the band feeling under the weather (the reason for the slightly sluggish start maybe?), they are into ‘Bells Of Creation’, one of my all time favourite ToD songs, and I couldn’t be happier, beaming like the band on stage. When this is followed by ‘Relative Ways’, my face hurts from smiling so much, my early 20s flashing before my very eyes. The gig ends on an encore of ‘A Perfect Teenhood’ from their 1999 debut Madonna which sends the crowd into raptures, moving from melodic opening to 5th gear full on thrash in the space of about 10 seconds, the words ‘oh fuck you’ shouted back at the band with generous venom. It’s a perfect ending to a night where the band looked both back and to the future; here’s to the next nine albums.

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