...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead: Source Tags & Codes

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead: Source Tags & Codes

No matter how far down the volume is turned, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's third album, Source Tags & Codes, sounds loud. This is noisy music, heavy on leakage and bleed. Even the frequent lyrical passages are liable to rupture a speaker, and when the Texas band shatters the calm with a fresh assault of pounding drums, clashing cymbals, distorted guitars, and full-throated shouts, the sound might just cleave through listeners' skulls, bust out their windows, and go after the neighbors. To be enjoyed properly—and the album most assuredly can be enjoyed—Source Tags & Codes should be played in an empty field far from civilization, where innocent bystanders can't be endangered. Studied under controlled circumstances, a song like the relentless, battering "How Near, How Far" becomes more than just a collection of machine-gun drum rolls and inarticulate howling. The swirling, Sonic Youth-like instrumental breaks, aided by the low moan of a string section, come into sharper focus, as does the tension between the pummeling and the relatively soft moments that make it all the more exciting. Trail Of Dead's brand of sonic violence is enhanced by the fact that it doesn't push the extremes of noise for the sake of shock value or adventure. This isn't speed-metal, or grindcore, or any of the other hardcore-punk subsets that revel in making a mess. Instead, the band brings edge and drama to anthemic rock songs with identifiable hooks and melodies under all the calamity, and with lyrics that offer vivid, near-stream-of-consciousness exclamations like, "Let me hold you in my arms, dear / And let me melt in the heat of your gaze / And let the clock strike one." The group plays imaginative alt-rock with intense passion, and Source Tags & Codes lets the pressure build exquisitely, finally allowing a long breath with the exultantly catchy (though still ear-splitting) "Relative Ways." When ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead wraps the project with the clanging title track, with its images of "the ruined landscapes that I once called home," it's concluded more than just a collection of songs. It's provided an experience.

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