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Relative Ways/Homage

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Relative Ways/Homage EP

Over the course of three releases now, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead has been on three different record labels. When I heard their fine debut release a couple years back, I figured that it was just a matter of time before a larger label scooped them up. Their sophomore release Madonna came out on Merge, and they did some more touring before finally being scooped up by yet another label. This four song EP is their first effort for Interscope, and although there are a few small changes, this is by no means a sellout call.

In fact, after hearing these four tracks, I was actually surprised at how blazing they were. Although "Relative Ways" starts things out in a fairly friendly way, with a harder-edged vocal track that could possibly even find radio play, they absolutely blast out of the gates on the second track "Homage." With screamed vocals that only manage to calm down a bit for the spoken-word chorus, the track has blaring guitars and a pummeling rhythm attack that keeps it thick all around.

Just about the time you think things are going to calm down with a meandering intro, "Blood Rites" again lets loose with a sonic assault for the last minute of its running time for something that's half ambient, half hardcore. Closing things out on an unconventional note, the track "The Blade Runner" goes minimal, with some haunting keyboards, a touch of violins, and some jangling, eerie percussion. As a nod to the movie by the same name, it's one of the colder, more machine-like sounding songs that the group has done.

With only 15 minutes running time, it's not a lot of music, but it's a hopeful sign that the group hasn't been swallowed by the mega label and changed their ways. Production is a little cleaner and they try some new sounds (as is evident by the EP closer), but they haven't lost their penchant for rocking out. If you haven't heard the group, it's also a good place to get started, as the release only runs 5 dollars or so.

Rating: 7