...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories


3.5
great

Review

by Dewinged CONTRIBUTOR (68 Reviews)
January 23rd, 2020 | 64 replies


Release Date: 01/17/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Time heals nothing.

Time has tried to tame what once was one of the wildest live acts of the 90s alternative rock scene and, well, let's say it has very mildly succeeded in doing so. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead return six years after IX with a new album that feels like both a nostalgia punch and a last stand to stay relevant. We are talking about a 25th anniversary here, no small feat, so such an apocalyptic title like X: The Godless Void and Other Stories should speak for itself.

Few bands can marry epic, conceptual storytelling so effortlessly with alternative rock like the band from Austin. Loss and longing seem to be the themes that drive their tenth release, partly reflecting Conrad Keely's reluctant return to the US after living in Cambodia for several years. This last release is an odyssey of songs spanning a whole array of influences that have been present at one or another point in their vast career, from the NIN grittiness of "Gone" to the progressive rock of "Through the Sunlit Door". The core duo formed by Conrad Keely and Jason Reece surely have succeeded in bringing back most of the traits that have always formed the band's essence: The instrument and singing swapping (both Keely and Reece are outstanding drummers and more than decent vocalists), and the indecipherable amalgam of styles that merge into their music.

X: The Godless Void and Other Stories starts as expected, with a trance inducing, bombastic crescendo followed by a bass line that immediately calls back the glory of the 90s. The explosive opening track, titled "All Who Wander", soon materializes the little I remembered about them, but after a few seconds it all comes to mind like it was yesterday. I’ve always thought that And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead is a band that have always gone a step further than their peers in regards to writing and performing. Passages like the middle part of the acoustic tinged "Something Like This" and the second half of what at first sounds like a one-sided indie pop tune called "Don't Look Down", slowly progress into a blooming collage of guitar harmonies and strings that burst into something greater than they were supposed to be, and that is what always have made this band so special.

The first half of X: The Godless Void and Other Stories is quite dynamic thanks to tracks like "All Who Wander" and "Into the Godless Void", with plenty of unexpected turns and a wide sound palette. When "Gone" splits the album with a darker tone, it does so to prevent stagnation, veering towards a more electronic sound to cleanse your ears before "Children of the Sky" and "Who Haunts the Haunter" return the album to its original state. It's in these two tracks, though, where I found myself in thicker fog. The brilliant build-up in "Children of the Sky" is wasted in going back to the first phrases, ultimately building up to nothing, while "Who Haunts the Haunter" persists in hammering the listener with a repetitive chorus that lacks the melody to glue everything together. Instead, it evolves into a spoken word rambling until it's mercifully killed. These are but small qualms that don’t really have an impact when looking at the greater picture, but they are small bumps in the road, specially when considering this is one of those albums that truly shine when they are enjoyed as an uninterrupted experience.

The last section of X: The Godless Void and Other Stories is introduced by an interlude titled "Eyes of the Overworld", prefacing the last three tracks which are surprisingly solid. "Gravity" recalls the sound of bands like The Mayan Factor, ending with a sweet piano section that interweaves seamlessly with the first notes of one of the album's stand-outs, "Blade of Wind", just before the last track, "Through the Sunlit Door", sings off the album with a fairly positive vibe.

X: The Godless Void and Other Stories feels like an album where a lot is happening. It’s a daunting climb on first listen, specially for newcomers to the band, but it turns into a magic slide down once the melodies that interweave throughout these twelve tracks connect with your system. It's also a record that has the arduous task of convincing a whole generation of people that weren't even born when they were in their prime, destroying stages and injuring themselves all around the globe. And while there is enough material in X: The Godless Void... to breach through this skepticism, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead show no sign or intention of doing so, opting instead for staying true to the sound that have carried them throughout the years, regardless of the aftermath. Time has failed to completely extinguish the spark left in them, and that little flame is more than enough to keep them going far into the new decade.



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user ratings (43)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Shitty review, but I wanted to let this out before the 20th draft makes me want to choke myself.



Solid comeback, to say the least.



Check "Something like This": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTi2KG6jkjY





Digging: Post Animal - Forward Motion Godyssey

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


11429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

One of us had to do it. I'm honestly glad that it's yours and not mine.

Digging: Sutrah (CAN) - Aletheia

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man, this one was hard to come up with, and I feel I left out some details that i should have included.



Oh well... no one's gonna read it anyway lol



:_ (

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


11429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I’ve always thought that And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead is a band that have always gone a step further than their peers in regards to writing and performing.




Me too, it's largely this that fell short for me - maybe I was expecting too much? Again, largely happy you took this one on.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I mean, this is quite decent, underwhelming at first but it has largely grown on me these last 3 days. It's not Source Tags, and nothing comes close to my all time favorite, Will You Smile Again (that godly intro riff and drum beat) but there's plenty of goodness to be found here too.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


11429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It also seems to bluster and lose steam a bit in the second half. Or maybe that's just me?

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The two tracks before the interlude are the lowest point for me but the last 3 are pretty good i think. Love the closer too.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


11429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know I still have plenty of mixed feelings about this but still come out with a 3.2ish rating.

MiloRuggles
January 23rd 2020


305 Comments


Love the band name. Where do I start with these fullas? Skip straight to Source Tags?

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


11429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Probably a safe bet this end.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I would say so, Milo, Source tags, Worlds Apart and Tao of the Dead are good starting points.

MiloRuggles
January 23rd 2020


305 Comments


Appreciate the prompt directions friendos, I'll report back at some stage. Props to both of you for digging up things I need to listen to (new Dragged Into Sunlight! Fuck yeah!)

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


11429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

We're here anytime bro. Tell your friends.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, he will, I actually have some errands to take care of, but I'll be back before you are able to spell the name of this band.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


43207 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

good review dewi. wish I liked this more but they've just lost the fire since Lost Songs, and the lack of Reece vocals increasingly frustrates me no end. Gone is the only standout on this for me

Digging: Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats - Unlocked

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers Row, "Gone" is an interesting choice, pretty different from the rest of the album. Mine would be the opener, or "Don't Look Down", but yeah they have lost fire, which is expected though, after 6 blank years and well, age doesn't forgive either.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


43207 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

well that's the only song that stuck out ha, with the rest more or less sounding the same. for sure they're not young bucks anymore but the fact that they were able to pump out Lost Songs - or a banger like Summer of all Dead Souls - in their mid-30s was what made those albums so good, and they seem to have lost that now. I doubt these guys will ever be *bad* for me but it's a shame to see them flicker

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2020


17914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Guess they are in their 40s now? And believe me when I say, that is a turning point lol

SandwichBubble
January 23rd 2020


10932 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Totally forgot this was coming out honestly, will check tonight.

Review has me at least a bit more excited than before.

Digging: Dirt - Never Mind Dirt - Here's the Bollocks

JesusCage
January 23rd 2020


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is pretty good. Don't Look DOwn might be my favourite.

Digging: Liily - I Can Fool Anybody In This Town



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