At The Drive-In

in•ter a•li•a

Written by: PP on 05/10/2017 14:36:27

At last, a new album by iconic post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In. Seventeen years have passed since "Relationship of Command" revolutionized the genre and influenced countless bands to experiment with the style. It was an explosive cocktail of Latin fervor combined with unpredictable twists and turns, chaotic segments mixed with progressive melodies, dissonant guitars and screeching effects, that is today considered a landmark release, a benchmark masterpiece for aspiring post-hardcore bands to try and better. Seventeen years later we still don't have a band that sounds quite like At The Drive-In did back in the day.

And so their fans followed in dismay as the band imploded due to creative differences; the amount of animosity towards each other and dismissive statements against ever playing together made it implausible that we'd ever be listening to a new album in 2017. A disastrous one-off reunion in London that saw Rodriguez-Lopez play the entire concert with his back to the audience to make a point didn't make it much better. A couple of eerie and ambient Sparta releases and The Mars Volta's critically acclaimed progressive rock made At The Drive-In's past sound like a closed chapter in each respective musician's careers.

Improbably, the band reunited and looked great on a recent tour before "in•ter a•li•a" was even announced, so here we are. Even more surprisingly, the album isn't an evolution channeling the last seventeen years of other projects either. Instead, old fans will be satisfied to hear that "in•ter a•li•a" sounds exactly as you would hope for a successor to "Relationship of Command" to sound like. The album stays almost one hundred percent faithful towards the original style: the cacophonous and unpredictable momentum, perfected through creative use of effects-pedals and screeching guitars is exactly as you remember it. Cedric Bixler's howls may no longer require a dictionary to understand, but his expression is every bit as uncontrollable and unconventional as it was otherwise in the past. Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar playing is as if The Mars Volta never happened.

An interesting observation is that despite sounding stylistically like its predecessor, "in•ter a•li•a" doesn't quite have the same shock and awe effect in comparison. And that's because, during their absence, their influence spawned countless bands exploring the dissonant, erratic and explosive aspects of post-hardcore in each their own unique and equally successful manners. Norma Jean's "Redeemer", for instance, is a landmark release. Many will remember the Nintendocore of HORSE The Band. The Chariot's ultra chaotic live shows surpassed even At The Drive In's best years. So even though songs like "Governed By Contagions" and "No Wolf Like The Present" sound every bit as ferocious, creative and experimental, the outside context has changed enough to remove some of the eerie magic that comes with being the only band sounding like this.

Nevertheless, "in•ter a•li•a" is a great album. Its melodies are submerged underneath a wealth of effect-laden riffs and dynamic sequences that are delivered with chaotic passion and energy that few bands today can match. The interplay between Bixler's piercing, off-tune vocals, and Rodriguez-Lopez's twisting guitars is fantastic. And though most songs are drenched in pedal-driven experimentation played with ridiculous energy, fans of the softer material like "Pattern Against User" are made whole with quieter and more ambient tracks like "Ghost-Tape No. 9".

Overall, "in•ter a•li•a" sounds so much better than you would've expected from a reunion band that's been gone so long. It carries the same sense of unique creativity and total disregard for how genres are supposed to sound like as their past work, without straying too far away from their core sound. While it doesn't have the sort of one-liner catchphrases like "...this station is non-operational" that elevated "Relationship of Command" to masterpiece level (though "Hostage Stamps" certainly comes close), it comes with eleven fantastic reminders about what made At The Drive-In a great band in the first place.


Download: Governed By Contagions, No Wolf Like The Present, Continuum, Tilting At The Univendor, Hostage Stamps
For the fans of: Drive Like Jehu, Thursday, Glassjaw, Sparta, Bear Vs Shark, The Fall Of Troy
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Release date 05.05.2017
Rise Records

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