The eponymous debut of anarchic art-punkers ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
first surfaced on Texan label Trance Syndicate in early 1998--a furious flashstorm of detuned guitars recalling the ragged freeform dynamic of Sonic Youth
, the guitar-mangling showman excess of The Who
, and--on "Gargoyle Waiting"--a tendency to slip into flights of borderline-prog Dungeons & Dragons
fantasy. It was, unsurprisingly, a huge hit with the few critics that actually got to hear it--but Trance Syndicate's eventual bankruptcy saw the record sink without trace this side of the pond.
Ever the showmen, though, ...Trail Of Dead's cult reputation quickly began to precede them; when the Austin quartet hit it big with their mighty second album Madonna, promoted by a series of well-publicised and splendidly anarchic British live shows, their British label Domino were quick to exhume and re-release this seminal debut. Fans of Madonna might be surprised; tucked around the righteous punk-rock rallying calls, there are a few experimental forays like "Novena Without Faith" that reveal a far more experimental side to Trail Of Dead's oeuvre--although unlike Sonic Youth, when they are out there, they seldom put a foot wrong. A baptism of fire? ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ranks up there with the best of them. -- Louis Pattison