Album Review: At The Drive-In – “In.ter.a.li.a”
Relationship of Command by At The Drive-In was probably one of the most influential albums to enter my life during my teenage years. Bought on a whim after hearing One Armed Scissor, the album opened my eyes to a whole variety of new genres, including the wider reaches of what punk and hardcore could be, with hints of electronica and more all built in. Equally, upon finally seeing them live in 2012 I was bitterly disappointed to see a band a shadow of their former selves going through the motions, and frankly I was glad when they split up again, presumably banishing the memory of the husk of a once great band to history. However, like a desperate former partner returning to their attractive ex time and time again, despite how bad a taste they leave in your mouth, because it was good once I keep coming back every time they teased a reunion. Thankfully my patience feels like it has been rewarded with In.ter.a.li.a, which is a massive return to form, and a huge relief.
Mixing a classic concoction of blistering pace, cryptic and avante garde lyrics, and a unique hardcore meets prog dynamic, In.ter.a.li.a is a phenomenal effort from start to finish. From the opening track, No Wolf Like The Present this is uniquely ATDI. The rhythm section provides a spectacularly complex, but consistent, basis for the outstanding guitar work of Omar Rodriguez, who also provides fantastically contrasting backing vocals to Cedric Bixler, whose unique vocal style is still a welcome and yet entirely vitriolic sound. Cedrics’s vocal range now also seems to include a more gravelly element, which underlines the growth and maturity that this album shows, all while retaining what made them such an influential band in the first place. Lyrically, they haven’t missed a beat here and there is a renewed sense of dystopian anarchy to the band’s sound.
There are plenty of highlights on In.ter.a.li.a, but for me the singles Governed by Contagions and Incurably Innocent are both strong stand outs, while I enjoy the more experimental approach taken on Call Broken Arrow, Torrentially Cutshaw is probably my favourite track on the album as it feels like a nice departure, while still sounding distinctively like ATDI. The experimental song structures, the unusual chord progressions, the chaos and the passion are all back in force here.
This is the band I hoped to see in 2012, the band who made one of the most influential albums of all time, and who frankly have somehow managed to come back some 16 years later with an album that while not quite reaching those heights (which was always going to be impossible) makes a very good go at doing just that.
Like a long-lost relative, ATDI sweep back into life with In.ter.a.li.a, a tour de force and easily one of the best albums of 2017. This was well worth the wait, and shows that despite a lengthy absence At the Drive-In are more relevant today than ever. A fantastic record, by one of the most important bands of the last twenty years. Buy this now.