... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Dine Alone Records)

Texas Platters

"The Opening Crescendo" rings in Trail of Dead's return after six long years. Creeping Tibetan chant hypnosis, it births a grievous European symphony of electricity fading toward chamber silence. "All Who Wonder" picks right up with slabs of distortion grinding against swashes of serpentine wah-wah and magma-dripped solos. Two tunes into 10th platter X: The Godless Void and Other Stories, the veteran Austin institution achieves full circle career transcendence behind core co-leaders Conrad Keely and Jason Reece. Summation of their best recorded moments, X echoes the pulverizing claustrophobia of Source Tags & Codes (2002) and sheer aggression of bone-crushing 1999 debut Madonna, erecting walls of drill-bit noise and floating ennui codas. Although the local quartet's legacy teeters between alternative metal and indie rock, fleeting moments of pop gleam on "Something Like This" and "Don't Look Down." The former rides an acoustic gallop to a reverb expanse, while the latter rumbles big bass and bigger sky guitar flourishes. Continuation of previous disc IX (2014), Godless Void marries TOD's prog rock ambitions with their proclivity for overdriven epics. "Who Haunts the Haunter" wheelbarrows crash-n-burn shred wreckage as it splits the ground open like Armageddon. Space odyssey twofer, "Blade of Wind" picks up extraterrestrial noise and spins out of orbit, rocketing into the black hole detonation of "Through the Sunlit Door." Slow burner, the latter's tom-toms and feedback prove a fitting finale and a newfound revelation.

****

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