There are albums we hate, albums we like, albums we love, and then there are albums that meld sound and lyric so perfectly that it transcends those labels. It was in the right place at exactly the right time, maybe if it was from another era, we may not care so much, but it was just right. While history may not regard it so highly, for us, it is one of THE albums.
In 2002, hot off the heels of my love affair with techno and hip-hop, I was starting to rediscover a love for rock that I had dumped in the late 90s. I felt as it hardcore and emo were my (current) true calling, and could there be a more emo name than …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. So, I sat at a listening station in Tower Records and had my world shattered. This wasn’t metal, it wasn’t punk, it was just rock. Epic freaking ROCK!!! I listened to the entire Source Tags & Codes CD front to back in that torn faux leather bar stool. I drove around for at least a few hours afterwards, blasting it in my car (I lived with my parents so my car was the only place I could blast music). Portions or all of it have been on every mix CD I ever made and on every iPod I’ve ever owned. It’s never out of reach.
So, there we were. 2014. Trail of Dead reached the skyrocketing heights of popularity. Shows that were epic in scope and execution at venues with thousands of people. But, fame and popularity wane, even if the talent doesn’t. So, there we were. In the basement of some lofts, a few hundred of us, Conrad Keely taking inventory at the merch stand. In a short while, we would all be in the thick of it again. THE album.
If the crowds have shrunken, their love of them has not. While maybe not the best at the small talk shtick, when the instruments to the talking, everyone listens. Diving right in to “It Was There That I Saw You” Conrad, Jason Reece, Autry Fulbright, and Jamie Miller screamed and beat their way 12 years in to the past. The mildly frantic drumming of “How Near How Far” became downright desperate, while the howls of the “Electric guitar hanging to my knees” on “Relative Ways” was less lamentable and more a battle cry. The highlight, though, came on “Days Of Being Wild.” Jason decided that the planned theatrics were not going to do, stopped the song a minute in to the first part, put his guitar down, and started at the beginning while inciting a mosh pit, not taking no for an answer from anybody in the vicinity.
Yeah, there were some other songs played, they’re in the setlist below. They were good, but as the final chorus hits of the title track disappeared from my ears, not much mattered. I heard THE album.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com