Trail of Dead’s Lost Songs

You would be forgiven for thinking that this was an album of Trail of Dead rarities. The facts that it’s coming so soon on the heels of last year’s acclaimed Tao of the Dead and that it is actually called “Lost Songs” make it sound like a collection tossed off. Perhaps these songs are outtakes or leftovers from the Tao sessions. The album name doesn’t suggest a career high-water mark, but that’s exactly what Lost Songs is. Many critics noted that Tao of the Dead seemed like a return to form, and while that album certainly had highlights, it was still a bit uneven and we here at OVRLD never quite got into it. In hindsight, however, it has proven to just be the necessary stepping stone to delivering us Lost Songs.

The word that I keep seeing in reviews of this album that resonates most with me is “urgency.” At their best, Trail of Dead channels their brand of proggy lite-metal through a sense of urgency that keeps their tracks fresh and invigorating. Take the title track, for example. It’s similar to last year’s “Weight of the Sun” in that it focuses more on its bouncy, pop-influenced melody than on the heavier aspects of Trail of Dead’s sound. However, “Lost Songs” (thanks largely to some phenomenal drumming by Jason Reece) maintains the energy that the heavier numbers have in a way that has sometimes gotten lost on other ToD numbers.

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - 'Lost Songs'

The strength of the songs is one of the reasons this album is so good, but the sequencing is also masterful. The transition from “Lost Songs” into “Flower Card Games” seamlessly joins two quite disparate songs in a way that really illustrates the different elements that ToD does well. They can incorporate peppier melodies like “Lost Songs,” or explore darker and slower jams as well.

Though “Lost Songs” and “Flower Card Games” make up the album’s centerpiece moment, there are highlights everywhere. “Catatonic” brings a fast punk rock approach without being a genre imitation thanks to the massive space ToD’s guitars are able to create. Album opener “Open Doors” kicks off with a funky, muted dance beat that eventually explodes into a rock song as pure as anything they’ve ever done. Singer Conrad Keely has said that “Up To Infinity” is inspired by the Syrian civil war – though you’d be hard-pressed to know it from how far down the vocals are mixed. It’s impossible to make out any of the words.

However, the band’s social consciousness explains some of the urgency that characterizes this record. It’s an earth-shaking record, and they are shaking us out of our complacency, trying to rouse us into some sort of action. Trail of Dead have finally delivered a record that builds on the perfection of Source Tags & Codes – this one is great.

– Carter