By J. Cey
Come along on an even keeled journey to nowhere with these prog-punk veterans from Austin, Texas. It should be noted that Trail of Dead has endured 20 years and nine albums despite numerous lineup changes and label switches. What this bumpy past leaves them with in 2014 is a polished sounding record that almost overreaches where the band has been, and, falling short, spreads itself thin by resorting to the safest shades of past endeavours.
IX kicks off with a promising feel on “The Doomsday Book,” with pounding rhythms rolling and soaring guitar leads supported by droning chord modulations from guitar and synth. Unfortunately, the motif is long played out by the time fourth track “Lie Without A Liar” begins. The first sense of palpable excitement is the instrumental “How To Avoid Huge Ships,” featuring a piano riff culminating in a fantastic crescendo introducing IX‘s best track, “Bus Lines,” reminiscent of a toned down Porcupine Tree.
IX suffers from a simple problem: as a journey it takes too long to get where Trail of Dead is going, and there isn’t enough on the skyline to keep your attention. The more epic tracks hidden in the latter part of IX showcase Trail of Dead at their best, their composition and passion realized in dynamic. If the band can find the sense of urgency and danger they once had, covering all parts of the equation that makes them Trail of Dead may be feasible again in the future. Here, the overall package fails to deliver the band’s promise.…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, IX, Trail of Dead