At the Drive-In – In•ter a•li•a (Album)
Released: May 5th 2017
At the Drive-In line Up –
Cedric Bixler-Zavala – Vocals
Omar Rodríguez-López – Guitar, production
Paul Hinojos – Bass
Tony Hajjar – Drums
Keeley Davis – Guitars
At the Drive-In Online –
Sometimes it’s hard to step out of the shadow of your own legacy, this is especially true for At the Drive-In who in the wake of their seminal album Relationship of Command, not only made an all-time classic, but like their contemporaries in Refused, set the standard for the future of the entire sound of modern day punk. It is extremely unfortunate to say In•ter a•li•a, the long-awaited new album finds the band struggling to step out of their own enormous legacy.
From the beginning notes of ‘No Wolf Like the Present’ it’s hard not to compare this album to Relationship of Command. I would love nothing more than to judge it on its own merits, but the reality is this is mostly just weaker versions of what they’ve written before. The song itself encapsulates one of the many frustrating facets of this album, with the raw production turning the trademark frenzied riffs into a hindrance rather than a positive. The harsh production on the guitar work makes the vocals of Cedric Bixler-Zavala mostly indecipherable – the album as a whole simply lacks the spit and polish of their previous work, instead opting for a less full sound and sadly suffering as a consequence.
It’s not all bad news as subsequent song ‘Continuum’ is arguably one of the best songs on the album, featuring a weighty head bang tempting riff, it’s the kind of song that will go over well in a live situation. It’s not just rehashing the glories of their past. This momentum can’t be preserved though as the one-two punch of ‘Tilting at the Univendor’ and ‘Governed by Contagions’ leaves you wondering how on Earth these tunes weren’t left on the cutting room floor.
In the end the best songs on the album are the ones which sound as if they belong on Relationship for Command with ‘Incurably Innocent’ sounding as if it was written 17 years ago and locked within a vault somewhere in the world. But the truth is, even at best, these songs would be relegated to bonus tracks.
The last noteworthy tune on this album is the frenetic ‘Torrentially Cutshaw’. The song moves with an energetic pace mostly missing from the rest of the album – the harsh guitar production not being so prevalent, resulting in the briefest of captivating moments. It’s the kind of song you would expect a band 17 years in the music game to be making.
Ending the record with ‘Hostage Stamps’ it’s the perfect encapsulation of why this album is so maddeningly frustrating to listen too. Because the song, much like most of the album refuses to be anything other other than a ghost image of a better more iconic record.
As a fan of this band, someone who listens to Relationship of Command on a regular basis, It saddens me to say this album is probably one of the most disappointing things I’ve heard all year. Because while it’s not necessarily bad, it lacks any of the creativity and forward-thinking I know Bixler and Omar Rodriquez-Lopez are capable of producing.
At this point, At the Drive-In just sound like they’re trying to copy themselves, but the unfortunate reality is it’s rare to recapture that magic twice. In the end In•ter a•li•a lacks the youth and tension of a band on top of the world about to implode on itself – now they’re just a group of guys having some fun and you only need to look at George Lucas directing a Star Wars prequel to know how that usually ends.
I could only recommend this album to extremely die-hard fans. The rest of you should stay home and watch Rupaul’s Drag Race.
In•ter a•li•a is Out Now