At the Drive-In
Relationship of Command


4.5
superb

Review

by Matt Conrad USER (25 Reviews)
January 5th, 2007 | 156 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Did you hear? Five guys from El Paso, Texas have found a way to condense pure energy and convert it into music. They call it Relationship of Command.

Like no other album I have experienced, At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command carries an air of unceasing, animal aggression. From the opening seconds to the closing moments, this album is an ocean runneth over of pure energy. Blaring, astringent guitars and undulating bass compete with merciless drums for the forefront in the picture, only to find a common enemy in Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Jim Ward's hostile, primeval vocals. It is a constant struggle, and the results, rather than a miserable mess, are nothing short of savage beauty.

Take, for instance, the opener Arcarsenal. As maracas rattle amid a wailing wall of guitar fuzz, the bass brings the song and album to a start proper, and Cedric just unloads upon the listener, an atonal assault on their sensibilities. The song pulsates and pounds, never letting up, never giving in for even a millisecond. The musicality on this song is top-notch, with Jim Ward and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez biting through the mix with a punishing, sharp guitar tone. Drummer Tony Hajjar and bassist Paul Hinojos provide the perfect foundation for the rest of the band, with eternally intense drumming and a strangely-danceable bass line. A final howl from every member of the band brings about an end to the track.

From this point on, the album's intensity only gets increasingly more brutal. In fact, the first nine tracks on the album are quick-paced, extreme studies in sonic energy. In this mix are the single One Armed Scissor, perhaps the band's best known song, featuring catchy, yet driving guitar riffs and tandem vocals; Sleepwalk Capsules is the best song on the album, for every member of the band gives the song their all, refusing to compromise, if even for the safety of its audience's hearing. Enfilade, one of two songs to feature Iggy Pop of Stooge's fame, is a romp of extraterrestrial guitar tone, vocal effects, conceptual lyrics, and a deliciously throbbing bass line.

As well, the album holds up its beautiful aspects with Invalid Litter Dept., a tale of the unsolved murders in Juarez, Mexico. Cedric's most emotive lyrics and vocals are featured on this song, one moment giving a spoken-word monologue of highly personal gibberish, the next baring the remainder of his soul with brutality interwoven with an underlying magnificence. As the guitar and bass lock in with one another with a driving passage, Cedric screams as never before, an emotional highlight if there ever was one.

Alas, the ratio, in comparison, to gentle versus intense songs is severely disproportional. This seems to be the only true complaint regarding this album, from a personal standpoint. There are but three of these gentler songs to behold, including the album closer Non-Zero Possibility. A piano-laden verse features exquisite vocals from Cedric, as well as remarkable restraint on the part of the rest of the band, when the rest of the album has been taken into account. Then, the chorus hits, the pure essence of emotion bottled into a small portion of music.

This is a truly amazing album, no question as to that. Every single second is brimming with highly focused energy in its expert form. The musicality is extremely on-point, with ever member of the band pouring their hearts, souls, and talents into the mold, and in the process creating something truly mind-blowing. Every track, from the soft to the savage, is packed with emotion, with no second of the album wasted on filler or musical waste. While all of this sets the gears in motion for an album of epic stature, I simply cannot bring myself to call this album a classic. There is some unknown aspect to the album that prevents me from looking at it this way. Perhaps it is due to the disproportional styling of the songs (which is almost certainly intentional), but I cannot see this as a timeless album. For now, the accolades of "amazing," "astonishing," and "incredible" seem to be just and more than fitting.

THE GOOD
The first nine tracks
Cedric's incredible vocal performance
The way the band members work superiorly well, both together and individually, to
create this music

THE BAD
Lack of contrast between song stylings

THE RATING
4.5/5



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user ratings (3427)
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1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Syncratic
January 5th 2007


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll edit the summary, I hate faulty code like that.

Well, enjoy!

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 5th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good stuff. I agree that non-zero possibility isn't that fantastic. It takes away from the general flow of the album.

Syncratic
January 5th 2007


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Indeed.

However, "Sleepwalk Capsules" and "Invalid Litter Dept." are just amazing songs, sooooooo good.

Muisee
January 5th 2007


679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After awhile most songs to me lose that energy, however "Mannequin Republic" and "Cosmonaut" still are two great songs.


JumpTheF**kUp
January 5th 2007


2717 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, nice to see a review not completely loving this. We need a more objective review for this, however.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 6th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Jump, that's the thing, there are no haters.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 6th 2007


2717 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nah, there are plenty of people who gave this threes.

Thor
January 6th 2007


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Three's not hating...

Digging: Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of Stars

superfascist
January 6th 2007


118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

We need a more objective review for this, however.

Being objective doesn't mean giving an album a mediocre review. It's possible to be completely objective about something and still consider it a classic, or conversely, complete garbage.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 6th 2007


2717 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Three's not hating...
I realise that, but at it's not completely loving it either, as all of the other reviews are.

Syncratic
January 6th 2007


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree, there are too many 5's for this album. I love it, but I can't see it as a classic. And I'd like to see what some of the other people have to say about this album.

Oddsen
January 6th 2007


1127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review.

Some of the songs on this album are just amazing but I hate infilade and Rolodex propaganda. Also, Cedric's voice starts to annoy me after a while.

Syncratic
January 6th 2007


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Enfilade" is a great song, but, hey, to each his own.


Thanks!

Hatshepsut
January 6th 2007


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This deserves all the love it gets.

Syncratic
January 6th 2007


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It really is a fantastic album.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2007


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn, I was like a week away from reviewing this myself. Guess I'll have to wait a while...


Such a fantastic album.

Pretty good review.

My copy of the album has two more tracks...This Message Edited On 01.06.07

The Jungler
January 6th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

No way is Sleepwalk Capsules the best song on the album. I think its one of the worst, too be honest. And yeah, the version I have has two more tracks as well, must be a re-release or something.
Pretty good review.

TheMisterBungle
January 6th 2007


861 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

must be a re-release or something.

Yeah, Catacombs was on the Australian original release and Extracurricular is from a split with a band called Sunshine.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2007


17945 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hi guys

TheMisterBungle
January 6th 2007


861 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

As Chan proudly displays his three rating in hopes to cause an uproar...



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