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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 67 - 03/28/02

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Source Tags & Codes
Interscope

It all began when I was 16 years old. Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins was released in 1993 and I fell in love with music that roared with anger and frustration yet ached with longing for love and acceptance. It's a familiar story but I had discovered a sound that spoke to me.

If Source Tags & Codes had been released back then and I had picked it up instead, there is no doubt it would have been the one to soundtrack my teenage years. It has all the ingredients that make a guitar album great: the snarling distortion, the sky-crawling melodies, the coherent 'album' feel. Source Tags & Codes is a great rock record.

Having signed to Interscope it's inevitable that Trail of Dead's sound has tamed a bit. Nevertheless, after the introductory piano piece "Invocation", "It Was There That I Saw You" sounds ferocious and essential, cymbals resonating in dead air as the guitars gallop onward. The pace slows to allow the serpentine guitar parts to sink their killer fangs in, and then the distortion explodes anew. It's a superb song, but overshadowed by the following "Another Morning Stoner". Despite the terrible title, it's the best track here (aren't track 3s always great?), its melody sticking like glue in the mind. And that refrain 'What is forgiveness?/It's just a dream/What is forgiveness?/It's everything.' is sheer bloody poetry.

It's the balance between evoking feelings of hope and despair where this album really succeeds. The tracks are structured beautifully, continually shifting emphasis with their catchy melodies, pummelling drums and Conrad Keely's desparate wail. Tied together by knots of distortion and radio interference, the songs are segued to carry the listener onward into further glorious chaos.

If there was one criticism it would be that, like Relationship of Command by At The Drive-In, Source Tags & Codes is a little too long for a straight-ahead indie rock album. There's only so much abuse the ear can take, and the sustained mania can be exhausting, lessening the considerable impact of the excellent material. "Baudelaire" and "Monsoon" are disposable songs, and their Rocket-From-The-Crypt-style horn sections sound out of place.

That said, there are so many awesome tunes here to enjoy, among them the cracking single "Relative Ways", that this album is just too damn good to pass up. Rock on.

Copyright © 2002 Tim Clarke e-mail address

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