erasing clouds

...and you will know us by the trail of dead, Source Tags & Codes

reviewed by Ryan McKee

It's nice to see a big label like Interscope finally get behind a good band. Before this, I hadn't heard any Trail of Dead and, with the name and cover art, didn't want to, fearing heavy metal or a Korn clone. However, they had Source Tags & Codes on sale at my local record store for $7.99 and so I let myself be talked into buying it.

I'm glad I did. The four moptops (not the four metal heads I expected) that comprise this band run this album to a number of places in the musical pasture. At times they have the ragged sound of Sonic Youth, the guitar excess of the Who, screams a la Johnny Rotten, and other times walk that same emo line that At the Drive In did. Now, instead of thinking about truckdrivers with wirey facial hair when I hear the name, I now see four guys who listened to a lot of Stooges and Ramones while playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The first two songs, "It Was There That I Saw You" and "Another Morning Stoner," have great hard rock intensity. Song 2 ends in morbid carnival music, very Tom Waits. The next songs, "Baudelaire" and "Homage," carry that intensity and show punk rock roots. "Homage" is a great scream piece. Throw in two other songs, "Monsoon" and "Days of Being Wild,"and you have the best part of the album. It begs comparison to a band that tried, but failed, to beat TOD in longest band name, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The rest of the album falls short, sounding overproduced. It makes me think that Interscope might be pushing TOD to have a hit single.

Will this band redefine rock 'n roll? No. But they have great potential if they remember their influences. When they aren't aurally assaulting you, they can get quite melodic and slow and dare I say, catchy. Let's hope we don't catch them on TRL, discussing how their parents' divorces 'so made them want to play dark music.'

Issue 9, April 2002 | next article

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