…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead : London Camden Elecric Ballroom

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead : London Camden Elecric Ballroom

Cowboy noiseniks smash London to itty-bitty pieces...

It would be so very easy to sneer at Trail Of Dead. They’re a

bunch of Dungeons & Dragons-playing nerds who sing about art and opera,

sneaking poncey words like ‘diatonically’ into their high-brow lo-fi songs.

Main guitarist/vocalist Conrad Keeley has a slight overbite, an elfin

face and a penchant for sketching scenes right out of Conan The

Barbarian in their album artwork. He’s even writing a fantasy book,

ferchrissakes. But you have to admit, he and his fellows rain down guitar

blows more deadly than any number of 100-sided dice.

Entering to ‘Ode To Isis’, an overture of strings and Valkyries,

the band offer an epic show from the off. They smash into the angular twists

of ‘Will You Smile Again?’, the post-rock rhapsody that sets the tone

of their new album ‘Worlds Apart’. Then it’s straight into the

bombastic ‘It Was There (That I Saw You)’ with barely even a pause

for breath. Now with six members where there were originally four, the sheer

brute force of sound is carnage. Chunky Jason Reece is joined by

second drummer Doni Schroader, resulting in a synchronised beefcake

ballet. Better still, the extra musicians give Conrad and
Jason the chance to really act like showmen.

“It’s good to be back in London,” babbles Conrad,

sincerely. After all, this is the city that gave him his first set of

bagpipes way back in 2001. He even remembers which songs they played last

time they were here. Geek.

Despite such nerdy inclinations, TODtend to be less self-conscious

and more conscious these days. Poptastic recent single ‘Worlds Apart’

(noticeably absent tonight) cusses a self-obsessed America. See, TOD

make commercial, major-label rock that – crucially – has brains.

Their fans appreciate it, too. While the band’s name implies that their

very presence will be marked by an orderly queue of corpses outside the
Electric Ballroom, tonight, as usual, TOD attract a crowd who

are anything but lifeless. This audience came to see guitars and vocal

chords torn to shreds and that’s exactly what they get. To show their

thanks, fists punch the air, limbs flail, testosterone is spent; the whole

crowd surges as one. The onstage bombast never lets up, not ever.
Danny oozes sex appeal, the first Dead boy to do so, as he winds

lewdly around those basslines. Conrad and Jason swap between

guitar and drum duties again and again. Guitars reach the end of nearly

every song out of tune, or, worse still, smashed in half by Jason

midway through. Are they really able to do this every night? With new, improved showmanship to match their craftsmanship and the added

aural assault of extra members, Trail Of Dead have finally met their

swollen ambitions. Their boundless energy and melodic hardcore dirge is

utterly compelling, more sonic death than Sonic Youth. Conrad

bashes out the black’n’blues guitar riff to ‘Richter Scale Madness’

with a mic in one hand, the very air trembling around us. This is a band

whose allure is primal, as loud as a temper tantrum. They can easily be

heard as far away as native Texas – and perhaps even in Conrad’s

fantasy land, too.

Daniel Robson