Tao of the Dead

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead long ago abandoned the kind of hammering post-hardcore that characterized their third (and best) record, 2002's Source Tags & Codes, in favor of increasingly ambitious forays into art rock — the results of which have been, at best, mixed. Their seventh album, Tao of the Dead dials back the ostentatiousness a bit — there are no lugubrious pianos or orchestral asides, though its 16 songs are arranged into two continuous "suites." In other words: You win some, you lose some. The upside is that the group offsets these indulgences with some of its strongest writing in years, from the willowy psych pop of "The Wasteland" to the buzzing spoken-word dalliance "Cover the Days Like a Tidal Wave." Their decision to fuse the songs with a series of spaced-out instrumental passages is indulgent, to be sure, but the album's breathless, genre-spanning ambition makes it easy to forgive.

Listen to "Summer of All Dead Souls":

Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos

x