Guildford’s Trails have been building up quite the head of steam lately. Following support slots with the likes of Tellison, The Computers and Arcane Roots, Trails went cap in hand to their fans with a Kickstarter campaign to fund their debut album, Crooked Trees. To cut a long story short, the fans came through, Trails smashed their fairly modest target, and Crooked Trees got made.
Crooked Trees really speaks for itself. The album begins with a fiddly guitar intro before launching head first into a crushing riff, coupled with a guttural scream that ushers in track one – ‘Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads’. The song is a breakneck hardcore thrill ride, with energy to spare and crossover appeal in spades. That said, it features a dizzying array of parts and a dense, complicated structure which lies far beyond the pale of mainstream rock music. It is a baffling display of skill and a tantalising overture of what is to come.
Next up, you get ‘Forever Black’, which kicks off with some pretty left-field Biffy Clyro-esque vocal harmonies before a stop-start Helmet riff trades phrases with black metal screams. The verses are fairly straight up punk, but the song ends when a ginormous swashbuckling riff comes out of absolutely nowhere for a couple of bars. This is clearly the work of a band who have more ideas in each song than most have in their entire back catalogue. It is completely disarming in the best possible way.
And the pace never lets up. They channel a more math-y Hundred Reasons on Echoes in Eternity, a more hardcore Reuben on Egos at the Door and some sort of indescribable Oceansize/Antlered Man mash up scenario on the frankly baffling Panthro. If you ever liked the band ‘A’ but thought they could really use a little bit more jazz in their sound, then the album’s absolute highlight, ‘Capgras Delusion’, is probably the song for you. Trails have thought of more or less everything and it is truly captivating to hear a band mercilessly shoehorning every single idea that they imagine inside sub-four minute slices of anthemic rock.
You could argue that Trails wear their influences a little too readily upon their sleeves at times, but you couldn’t ever accuse them of doing nothing new with these familiar formulas. Crooked Trees is a brilliant album from a band who can only go up.
4.5 out of 5 high fives!