Dread. Doom. Regret. Loathing. Guilt. These qualities have been the stock in trade for The Walkabouts on each of their albums over a long and prolific career. But with the end of the century quickly approaching the band has crawled even further into the shadows with its new release "Trail Of Stars.". Trading in some of the characteristic sounds of the past (distorted, spiky guitars and lush strings over pop arrangements) the band takes on a much cooler and mechanical sound that combines elements of the 'Bristol Sound' (Portishead, Massive Attack) with the elegance of 'Avalon'-era Roxy Music. The record rarely moves past a crawl and never really 'rocks,' choosing instead to build its own hypnotic world and solemnly deliver its prophesies, falling somewhere between warning and ennui. "Trail Of Stars" lacks the fire of the band's earliest releases as well as the stately beauty of its breakthrough "Devil's Road" but is equally effective and debilitating in its maturity and patience, once again displaying the talents of a band that has never stood still and yet tackled each phase of its career with intelligence and depth.