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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 125 - 12/05/06

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
So Divided
Interscope Records

Hands down this is the lamest album art of the year. You could almost judge So Divided purely on the computer animated, Final Fantasy inspired chick staring blankly on the cover. That is of course, if Trail of Dead didn't have the sense to ironically fill this record with basic rock prototypes on their ongoing search for some epic, blockbuster punk holy grail. Last year's Worlds Apart nearly got lynched for ToD's use of a string quartet, a creepily enchanted choir, and the replacement of ancient eastern imagery with medieval conquests. Continuing farther down that dark, dangerous path, So Divided isn't as eventful in crafting their ongoing mythology, but the band makes a hell of a calamity in the process. Like the second Lord of the Rings movie: big battles ensue and it sounds like the tides of war have turned but lead singer Conrad Keely (let's call him the Frodo in this analogy) doesn't get all that much closer to casting his ring of delusions into any lyrical equivalent of Mt. Doom.

In spite of all their clamoring and pointless, would-be Tolkienesque plot, ToD manages to conjure a usual collection of deliciously basic punk hooks. Their British invasion tribute "Eight Day Hell" jumps like the Kinks with the giddiness and stupidity Herman's Hermits. Their classic rock adorations don't stop there with swelling, southern Texas blues on "Naked Sun" and downtrodden country for "Witches Web". Of course, would all work better on an album with a firmer grip on reality, but they're effective nonetheless.

Coheed and Cambria tried to do make this album last year (see Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness) in which they invented the most senselessly amusing cover/rip-off of Zeppelin's "Kashmir" ever attempted. Trail of Dead succeeds in the same dragon filled template with more down to earth, easier to swallow songs. Although for one of the most inventive bands out there, this out-doing of tween favored prog rockers has not been their most worth while endeavor.

Copyright © 2006 Matthew DeMello e-mail address

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