. . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Worlds Apart
(Interscope)

After making an indelible impression with 2002's seismic Source Tags and Codes, Trail of Dead appeared poised to deliver a pretentious follow-up. When Worlds Apart opens with an "Overture" that includes an operatic choir and an ostentatiously ominous piano melody, it seems as if this track will be the first float in a pompous parade of three-part suites, flute solos and odes to Stonehenge. Then a ringing riff dissolves the reverie, and the instrumentation begins a crescendo. The song abruptly reaches a churning climax in the midst of a melodic maelstrom. It's a spectacular six-minute cycle, one that flirts with extreme volume and brutal percussion without leaving the pop realm. Delicate chamber-pop ditties precede loud outbursts, and the stark contrast flatters both forms. Alternately alarming and enchanting, Worlds Apart turns out to be the antithesis of the willfully obtuse artistic statement -- it's an immediately accessible effort that proves catchiness and cacophony are not mutually exclusive.

 
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