At The Drive-In - Relationship Of Command (Cover Artwork)

At The Drive-In

Relationship Of Command (2001)

Grand Royal

Every once in a while, humankind is blessed enough to receive the gift of a musical experience that grabs you by the collar from the beginning and refuses to let go until you've listened to every last thing they have to say. Over and over again. That time is upon us once more, in the guise of a band called At The Drive-In.

At The Drive-In's new album, Relationship of Command, is simply the greatest album I've heard in a long, long time. This band is plastic rage. The first track on the disc, "Arc Arsenal," begins with a flourish, a short instrumental bit opening the song, followed by some of the most prolific shouting/screaming/singing I've ever heard. The album rages over eleven songs, changing its colours at every turn. "Invalid Litter Dept." is a half spoken word/half sung tune that slows things down a bit; "Non-Zero Possibility" incorporates some piano licks; "Quarantined" has a sample of a thunderstorm. The unifying elements are the crunching guitar riffs, the staccato drums, and the painful-sounding shriek of lead singer Cedric Bixler.

While the emotional content of the songs is high, it's also ironic; At The Drive-In's lyrics are almost completely nonsensical. Take the song, "Pattern Against User" - it's chorus goes something like this: "Patten against user - dilated/bastard waiting for nothing/circus carny guarding/the gates of heaven/pact stuck in limbo abduction/wormed our way through/distant earth." And that's just one of many, many examples. They're easily one of the most passionate-sounding bands out there, but it's impossible to tell what they're so passionate about.

This is punk, but not like any punk you've heard in a while. It's hardcore, but not the hardcore you're thinking of. It's high on emotion, but it's unlike any emo music you've ever heard. To put it simply, this band is doing it's own thing, which is a rarity in good music these days, and it couldn't be better.