At The Drive-In - in•ter a•li•a

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2017-05-05

Seventeen years after At The Drive-In went out in a blaze of glory with their greatest album - Relationship of Command - comes its follow-up, in•ter a•li•a. Missing is guitarist Jim Ward who has been replaced by Keeley Davis of Sparta. Ross Robinson has been replaced as producer by Rich Costey and Omar Rodríguez-López. Expectation is very high.

in•ter a•li•a starts out ferociously with No Wolf Like The Present. Furious guitar in the left ear then the right. Followed by furious, pounding with Cedric Bixler's furious voice at the front. Jumbles of words and guitar lines coming tumbling out. It is just like 17 years ago. And the riff is like a Heavy Metal You Made Me Realise. Continuum also starts ferociously but switches to Bixler's spoken word and Rodríguez-Lopez's splutters of harmonics before exploding into a chorus with a huge bass-line from Paul Hinojos. On Tilting At The Univendor, Rodríguez-Lopez's lead and Davis's rhythm are in total sync, complimenting each other. Hinojos and Tony Hajjar on drums work in much the same way. In fact, the playing is astonishing throughout the album. Governed By Contagions has my favourite lyric - 'That's the way the guillotine claps, she's the one that's governed by contagions.' - but the relentless pace is beginning to become samey. They need to move up or down a gear, but they stick at the same pace for four more songs until Torrentially Cutshaw, incredibly, kicks it up a gear. Ghost Tape No.9 then slows it down before Hostage Stamps - bookended, as most songs here are, by ambient sections - finishes the album with a geat guitar/bass riff and an insane guitar solo.

Relax everyone, there's not too much to worry about here. in•ter a•li•a stands up. The energy and the playing is incredible. There are a million guitar notes. There are also a million lyrics, none of which are words that you'd use in everyday conversation. It sounds awesome but, at times, it feels a little over-eager and pumped-up. It's possibly unfair to compare it to Relationship Of Command which is a classic that everyone should at least check out, but in•ter a•li•a falls short of that. If I were to guess, I'd say that Ross Robinson probably rode them a little bit harder about arrangements and that resulted in a rare meeting of high-intensity punk energy, super-technical playing and hooks. in•ter a•li•a has the first two in abundance but less of the third. A great album by anyone else's standards. Just a very good one by At The Drive-In's, but a welcome return and let's hope they stick around to do another.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
  • Bob Coyne

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    I think this might be the best comeback if you want a band to sound exactly as they did before. The worry was that they would have elements of Mars Volta in there but this picks up where Relationship of Command left off. Brilliant album.