After recording 2011’s krautrock and Buddhism inspired ‘Tao of the Dead’ in their native Texas the every contrary duo of Jason Reece and Conrad Keely chose to relocate to Hanover, Germany in search of inspiration for album number eight and as always with a Trail of Dead album the question on everyone’s lips is whether they’ve crafted a worthy successor to 2002’s landmark ‘Source Tags & Codes’. Well, Lost Songs certainly has a good stab, replacing Tao of the Dead’s complex rhythms with straight up bludgeoning in the vein of Fugazi or The Icarus Line.
Ominous opener ‘Open Doors’ plunders an industrial opening groove before plunging into heartbeat bass and pounding drums while lead single ‘Catatonic’s lacerating five note riff shows that they are not afraid to push vocals into the background in favour of switchblade sharp grooves. In general Lost Songs never quite changes lanes with the fury of say, The Mars Volta, but most of the tracks still explode out of the blocks in an impressively frenzied state. In fact, it’s a record that’s a consistent and explosive almost to the pointing of being tiring, with even the ominous bass lines that usher in most tracks thundering like a tank rolling through a town square.
Lyrically Lost Songs moves away from the sometimes impenetrable mysticism of ‘Tao of the Dead’ to tackle the duo’s most intensely political subject matter to date. ‘Up to Infinity’ is dedicated to jailed Russian protest punks, Pussy Riot while other tracks attack tyranny at home and abroad. If there’s one rallying cry to this record however it’s a vicious attack on apathy, both in the independent music scene and further afield. Manifesting itself in both the aim-high manifesto ‘Awestruck’ and the Lost Songs buzzbomb title track, Trail of Dead seem to be attempting to single-handedly generate enough electricity to shock the guitar-wielding world from its insular state. The attacks are a little unfocused but that Trail of Dead can still make a record this fresh after eight albums is a triumph in itself.