...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's music has always had a revolutionary fervor, and it only heightened when the band cast off its major-label shackles. Inspired by the state of the world in the early 2010s, they sound more fiery, and timely, than ever on Lost Songs. One of the album's lead tracks, "Up to Infinity," draws its inspiration from the Syrian war; the band dedicated it to jailed Russian punks Pussy Riot. As on the two other albums they released on their Richter Scale imprint, Trail of Dead sound like a well-oiled machine, and Conrad Keely and Jason Reece make the most of the quartet lineup they've had since their excellent previous album, The Tao of the Dead. While Lost Songs is nearly as elaborate as that album, it's more urgent than majestic, with streamlined sonics and a furious attack. The band wastes no time getting heads banging on "Open Doors," yet there's an almost architectural precision to the songwriting and guitar onslaughts; while lyrics like "It might have been/That the page and pen/Were once enough to save the world/Now it doesn't answer/Tables have been turned" isn't exactly a manifesto, it puts their fervor into words. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead switch between a global, philosophical perspective and a down-to-earth personal one as ably as they balance their punk and prog influences on Lost Songs -- witness how they balance the two-minute gallop of the title track with the cryptic grind of "Flower Card Games" -- but throughout the album, their righteous outrage is more poetic than literal. The most explicit they get is on "Pinhole Cameras," where Reece decries the plight of those "starving, living in this land of plenty" as well as his inability to do much more than record these injustices. The band's frustration with the state of things leads to some of their most revved-up songs in some time, including the standout "Catatonic," but the album's fever pitch threatens to become an impenetrable wall of fury. Even with the ebb and flow within each of these songs, the band doesn't really give listeners a breather until Lost Songs' closing trio of tracks. Given the album's somewhat grim cast, it's a relief that they offer a tiny glimmer of hope before it ends with "Time and Again," a more personal song that makes kindness and understanding the last word on Lost Songs. While it may be a shade less inspired than The Tao of the Dead, this is a solid, rugged album that underscores ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's position as trailblazers and torchbearers when it comes to mixing passion and politics.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares