At the Drive-In
Relationship of Command


5.0
classic

Review

by potsos USER (5 Reviews)
May 12th, 2009 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With 'album rock' on life support, Relationship of Command delivers a last rite that doesn't send the soul to slumber but instead threatens to reanimate the dead.

The Trojan Horse imagery gracing the cover of At The Drive-In's seminal third (and final) album was more than mere album art. It was an alarm call ... a conspicuous warning that the contents were under severe pressure. But like the Trojans, no one would be prepared for the ensuing attack.

If it is ridiculous to label an album not only post-punk but also post-rock, post-hardcore and emo -- and clearly it is ridiculous -- then this is post-lunacy. Emo may be the most bruised and battered genre in modern music, but there's little doubt that At The Drive-In are a prototypical (not typical!) emotional band. The fact that they transcend that moniker with helpings of punk, classic rock and hardcore is no accident. The fact that they sit nearly alone a top of heap of failed revisionists is simply bad luck. Yet, ATDI do not invent or reinvent here as much as they amplify and multiply to great effect. With 'album rock' on life support, Relationship of Command delivers a last rite that doesn't send the soul to slumber but instead threatens to reanimate the dead.

On previous -- and excellent -- releases In/Casino Out (1998) and Vaya (1999), ATDI had recorded inspired efforts that laid foundation for their otherworldly post-something fusion. But these sets would only hint at the devastating knockout blows delivered in spades by Relationship of Command.

Deciding if Cedric Bixler-Zavala's lyrical assaults are the result of stream of consciousness, stoned inner monologue or complete bull*** seems irrelevant here. Bixler and guitarist/vocalist Jim Ward deliver them with such conviction that snapshots like "hypodermic people poking fun at the living" or "position the stitches like miles of torpedoes" simply take their turn in a hurried procession of visceral images provoked throughout. This lyrical imagery peaks with the quasi-political spoken word of Invalid Letter Dept; where a fist-pumping chorus precedes a zenith of bone-chilling screams and Zeppelin-sized riffing to create the most compelling moment on the album.

Not to rest on his afro of laurels, guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez does not skimp on additional king-sized riffs. It begins with blistering opener Arcarsenal and rarely takes more than a quick breath until the Bjork-flavored haunt of Non-Zero Possibility brings things breathlessly to a shutter. In between, Iggy Pop plays a fitting guest star, making memorable appearances on both Enfilade and Rolodex Propaganda.

While the band remains just under the radar of nationwide saturation, One Armed Scissor now blares on college campuses across the US. Literally exploding into existence, it continues on to play loud-soft-loud to perfection. But tucked away near the end of the album, it is the brooding, bombastic Cosmonaut that finds At The Drive-In playing their quintessential song. Bixler snarls and bellows over Tony Hajjar's popping snares and Lopez and Ward weave around Paul Hinojos' thundering bass riffs. The resulting behemoth stands out -- a giant among giants -- on one of the essential rock and roll albums of the century.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
potsos
May 12th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

[note: I apologize for again reviewing an album that aleady has several reviews, but I am more
comfortable cutting my teeth here on albums with which I'm very familiar. I promise to take more
risks in the near future.]

This Message Edited On 05.13.09

TheNewWhack
May 12th 2009


1472 Comments


As you said, the review is not really necessary but it was pretty well written... Voted.

potsos
May 12th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for bearing with me. The one I'm currently working on has zero reviews, so the streak ends here.

TheNewWhack
May 12th 2009


1472 Comments


As long as it's not the new Seneca album... I call it right here!

potsos
May 12th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

All yours! (sneaks off to look up Seneca).

willfellmarsy
May 13th 2009


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

a lot of your music genre references don't make a lot of sense, this reads more like a reaction to a first listen than a review, still very well written so i won't complain more...

Cesar
May 13th 2009


2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like the way you write.

Tulannical
May 13th 2009


2051 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I like the way you write.


123



This Message Edited On 05.13.09

McP3000
May 13th 2009


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i may lower this. its fallen off me love list a little, but i was in love with it for so long, i may give it more time.

potsos
May 13th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

a lot of your music genre references don't make a lot of sense


Well, I attempted (and failed, perhaps) to poke fun at the way people love to throw "post-this" and
"post-that" around, especially in reference to this album when, in fact, I think that "emo" (by
definition, not necessarily execution) fits better than "post-punk" or "post-hardcore". What do
these even mean, really?

this reads more like a reaction to a first listen than a review, still very well written so
i won't complain more...


I figured there were enough TBTs for this, so I tried to convey the feeling rather than individual
musical movements. I do understand what you mean though. For instance, my "Crack the Skye" review
was much more topical. Maybe I should have skipped it altogether, but this is probably my favorite
album, period. I lack willpower.



This Message Edited On 05.13.09

fromrows
May 13th 2009


149 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good Review, you are definitely on the right track, look forward to hear more from you!

This album definitely destroys everything in sight and is probabaly the most defining rock album of the last 10 years, even though I personally prefer In/Casino/Out to this.

This Message Edited On 05.13.09This Message Edited On 05.13.09This Message Edited On 05.13.09This Message Edited On 05.13.09

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

kitsch
May 13th 2009


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i always compared invalid to zep too.

thebhoy
Emeritus
May 13th 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

potsos, I think what willfellmarsy was saying is that you are describing the album as an historical entity, referring to its place in culture several years after hearing it. It doesn't need to be a tbt to be topical, it's more the use of past-tense that gives the review that sort of reading. However, it is also very well written so it doesn't really matter.

myhigherpie
May 13th 2009


3027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review man.

amazing album. glad we agree that psychonaut is the best song.

rotterdog
May 13th 2009


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was just listening to this last night. Invalid Litter Dept. and Enfilade are my favorite tracks off here.

kitsch
May 13th 2009


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

mannequin republic ftw

like the review too

SeaAnemone
May 13th 2009


20373 Comments


nice review... this is AtDI's best imo

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

One of my three favorite albums ever

kitsch
May 13th 2009


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what are the other two

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Frances the Mute and Red



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