...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Madonna


4.0
excellent

Review

by BMDrummer USER (53 Reviews)
October 30th, 2017 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forever Unwound!!

When it comes to 90s post-hardcore, almost nobody compares to the level on finesse that Unwound brought to the sound. Starting as a scrappy noise band with catchy, dangerous songs, and eventually ending with the emotionally devastating Leaves Turn Inside You, Unwound truly etched their name into the punk world as the pinnacle of a non-existent genre. Equal parts ugliness and prettiness, groove and noise, despondency and screaming in yr ears, truly no one did it better than these guys. However, a few notable bands came close to this, one of them being ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead; specifically, their 1999 effort, Madonna.

All that Unwound-hyperbole might make more sense if you know me; no band is as superb as Unwound in my eyes, so the comparison is one of intense praise, to say the least. Trail of Dead have always sorta been on my radar, especially their 2002 album, Source Tags & Codes. Whilst that album is certainly an astounding piece of work on its own, people tend to write Trail of Dead off as being little more than a one-album-wonder. This is quite a shame, as their two albums prior are both excellent pieces of crazy-noise-cum-post-hardcore that kick you right in the teeth, often harder than Source Tags & Codes does.

You'll know exactly what I mean by this right when you push play, as you are greeted by a creepy interlude of chanting "You will know them by the trail of dead!" before eventually getting stuck on "dead." Then, you're suddenly drawn in with a simple guitar riff, that hits you like a fucking truck. "Mistakes & Regrets" sets quite a high standard for the rest of the album, and somehow, the band never really slows down. Throughout this sprawling piece of work, you are almost never allowed to breathe; whether this be the accident-on-purpose drumming on "Totally Natural," the nervous energy of "Mark David Chapman," the entirely different explosions in "Aged Dolls," or the broken E-string jam that is "A Perfect Teenhood," which ends in Conrad repeatedly screaming "*** you!" One of the greatest moments on this whole album is when Jason(?) suddenly screams "I am a mother-fucking ghost!" on "Aged Dolls," which perfectly manages to not feel cheesy or forced. This really nice sense of confidence that flows throughout Madonna is part of what makes it so enjoyable; while they're obviously taking this all every seriously and trying to craft something great, there's also a healthy amount of joy that resonates from the speakers when you play it at the right volume.

By balancing the art, with all its relentlessness intact, Madonna might actually be the most-well-defined Trail of Dead album. This might be hard to admit, seeing as Source Tags & Codes is one of those rare albums, but this really is it as far as this band goes. As far as I'm concerned, it's the only Trail of Dead album without an obvious weak track ("Baudelaire" comes to mind first, sorry!). Very few post-hardcore bands are legitimately comparable to Unwound, and of those that are, it's rare to be more than just acting; thank god it's influence here. So yeah, I guess it is only an act; best act so far.



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user ratings (125)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BMDrummer
October 30th 2017


14647 Comments


been meaning to write this for a while now

best trail of dead, fite me

LethalPaintball
October 30th 2017


1003 Comments


great review
not familiar with this album nor band though

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2017


43087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

yeah that's Jason screaming on Aged Dolls. great review, album and band are super underrated round here



Baudelaire hate tho? smh

Digging: Mac Miller - Circles

BMDrummer
October 30th 2017


14647 Comments


don't worry i still really dig that track boi

just always stuck out as weaker than rest imo

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2017


43087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

It Was There and t/t are the weakest on that album :eyes:



props for the Mark David Chapman ref, that's one of the best songs here and has some of the best lyrics of the 90s tbh

BMDrummer
October 30th 2017


14647 Comments


the harmonics on that seep into my soul

CugnoBrasso
November 7th 2017


853 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Describing Trail of Dead as a one-album wonder is a crime to me. Their post hardcorish indie in Madonna was great, and so are their recent prog efforts. Their discography is something one should not overlook, very good band!

osmark86
December 22nd 2017


9535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Jammed this again for the first time in years and it still rips so hard. The rawness, urgency and posty beauties this band brings is just brilliant. Needs moar love.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2017


43087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

we pierced the side of the idol with the sharpened neck of an electric guitar

Demon of the Fall
December 22nd 2017


14495 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I remember liking this band years ago, something happened.

Digging: Stereolab - Dots and Loops

osmark86
December 22nd 2017


9535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They have a very unique approach to music that I can dig. Nothing overpolished and high energy. Haven't really bothered much with their later output, but this is still great even after all these years imo.

Deathconscious
January 2nd 2018


23511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this seems a bit underrated.

Spec
January 2nd 2018


35829 Comments


ya if you’re gay

Deathconscious
January 2nd 2018


23511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i have news...

BMDrummer
July 12th 2018


14647 Comments


forgot how fucking HARD this goes

anarchistfish
June 6th 2019


28052 Comments


this is hard

Digging: IDK - IWASVERYBAD

BMDrummer
June 7th 2019


14647 Comments


it's great

sixdegrees
June 7th 2019


8214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great enough to rate?

Digging: Gary Glitter - I've Got Sweets

BMDrummer
June 7th 2019


14647 Comments


no

sixdegrees
June 7th 2019


8214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

welp



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