When … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead made its more prog rock influences known on 2005’s Worlds Apart, listeners familiar with the band’s output were left wondering, “Hah?”
This foray into seemingly unfamiliar territory made sense, given the tight construction of the band’s previous albums, but it was hard not to miss the bombast of Source Code & Tags and Madonna. Thankfully, The Century of Self brings everything together.
The loud crush of guitars propel such tracks as "Isis Unveiled", "Far Pavillions" and "Halcyon Days", but they veer into tangents that don’t feel needless.
All the album’s tracks blend seamlessly, returning to the solid architecture that anchored the band’s early work. Festival Thyme, the four-track EP that previewed the album, didn’t capture the depth and breadth the album. The EP’s tracks — including "The Bells of Creation" and "Inland Sea" — make more sense in the context of the album.
Pianist Clay Morris adds a new dimension to … Trail of Dead’s sound, providing a velvet glove to the iron fist that is the guitar work of Conrad Keely and Jason Reese. The band, on the whole, sound more fiery than ever, the album recorded live to tape (or hard drive?) than meticulously multitracked.
The Century of Self brings … Trail of Dead back closer to its roots while taking the best bits of the recent past. The band has always experimented with its sound, but this time, they sound complete.