AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD Source Tags & Codes (Interscope)

On their third album, originally released in 2002, this Texas quartet fuse together ambient sound collages, such as arresting opener “Invocation”, a symphony of strings, shortwave static and piano that suggests Michael Nyman gone a bit “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”, with noise barrages that turn the traditional quietLOUDquiet grunge template inside out. Alright, so making a song go LOUDquietLOUD isn’t exactly splitting the atom, but on a slow news day it’s innovative enough. Added to that, the Dead have a knack for parking melodious moments next to feral howling (“It Was There That I Saw You”), and the likes of “Another Morning Stoner” are powered by the same furniture-kicking fury that drove the late At The Drive-In.

Taut, tough and chewy as it may be, though, much of “Source Tags & Codes” seems rather soulless, not really engaging the emotions on any level deeper than provoking a moshpit-friendly frenzy. When the band emerge from the smokescreen of distortion and compression that covers much of the album, backing the meters away from the end stops, if only slightly, the mood changes perceptibly. The thumping “Relative Ways” and the swaggering title track - surely an influence on The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” – are probably the album’s most interesting moments for that reason.