Recorded in ten days, Tao of the Dead featured a slimmed-down version of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, whose previous two albums were performed by a six-piece lineup instead of the quartet featured here. It's also one of the band's most conceptual records. The track list is split into two lengthy halves ("Tao of the Dead" and "Strange News from Another Plane"), both of them featuring a different key, with each of the movements therein moving seamlessly into the next.
Spin (p.75) - "The band's typically thunderous melodic sprawl and cryptic musings on life and death perfectly fit the conceptual bill..."
Alternative Press (p.92) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'Pure RAdio Cosplay' thrusts out a riff from the Rolling Stones' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' and in typical Trail Of Dead fashion, it reprises later in the album."
CMJ - "[A] massive sounding tour de force....TAO will result in an indulgence of the mind, just please remember to snap back into reality."
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.51) - "[I]n stripping back to a four-piece they strip away pretentiousness and inject rough-hewn power."
Paste (magazine) - "[A] majestic return to form....[With] epic emotions, giant soundscapes, instrumental skill, hooks, and that indefinable quality you just can't quite put your finger on..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.84) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[S]o immediate and visceral that its ambitious construct and concept are barely noticeable....A stunning record with astonishingly effortless grace."