Review Summary: Enthralling, entrancing, and emotional, Relationship of Command is 11 recordings of human feeling. It's also nothing less than perfection.visceral
Characterized by or proceeding from instinct rather than intellect: a visceral reaction.
Whether you’re a fan of the album or not, one has to agree that there’s not a whole lot of words that describe At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command
better than “visceral.” As it’s often noted for, every note on the album is overflowing with passion and a fantastic, enthralling energy, and at many instances it sounds like these notes are trying to violently break free from the confines of your speakers. (And they damn near do it, too.) One can hear every band member’s heart and soul loud and clear in each of their parts; in every note picked and chord strummed, in every drum hit and word sung. Absolutely nothing is held back, and nothing is restrained.
But wait a minute, if nothing is held and back and every song is played with a loud and uncontrolled energy, wouldn’t that make the album noisy and obnoxious, and left with nowhere to go? Not in this case, my friend. You see, it’s only the actual music
on the album that’s visceral. The process by which the songs were written
is quite the opposite. And that’s the main reason why this album is so awesome. For, referring back to the definition of “visceral,” the songs were written with intellect, but executed
That’s why this album feels like an incredible musical force that gets you up and kicking holes in the walls whether you want to or not. That’s why the album’s every verse swells and every chorus soars. And that’s why when listening to the album, you feel like you’re being taken on a journey through yourself- instinct, intellect, and all. The songs were written and arranged fantastically, without any frantic energy during the writing process messing up the structures of the songs, or adding things that weren’t needed or taking away things that belong. And after the songwriting process was finished, the songs were played in a way that…that just felt right
at the very moment they were played. That’s why the album sounds so real, so nonnegotiable, and so ***ing unstoppable.
And what’s even better is that every aspect of the album was made this way. Not only every fill, riff, and harmony, but every lyric as well. While the actual words used in the lyrics were probably brought about viscerally when they were written, the constant and precise attention to word choice and placing is absolutely meticulous. I can’t say for sure, but I’m betting that a lot of the lyrics sung on the album are different than the ones that were originally written down, if they were written down at all. You can hear it. It’s just another example of how genuinely personal and instinct-based this album is. The lyrics are a direct reflection of the feelings being felt and the emotions being battled at the time they were written. As is the entire album.
But along with the fact that the songwriting on this album is absolutely brilliant, and the fact that the songs are performed with an outrageously exciting and irresistible energy, there are many other aspects that the make this album the masterpiece it is. The album contains the perfect amount of everything. There’s tons of variation; variation in song structures, and just in the general sounds of the songs, but there’s not enough to make you feel winded and leave you confused, thinking “Wait, I thought this was a post-hardcore album…” There’s aggression-laced dissonance and riffs heavier than the Trojan horse, such as in the album’s blistering opener “Arcarsenal,” and in the merciless “Mannequin Republic.” There’s also entrancing atmosphere, often built by guitar effect layered on upon guitar effect, like in the gut-wrenching “Invalid Litter Dept,” the swelling “Quarantined,” and in the album’s haunting closer, “Non Zero Possibility.” The latter is also built around a, simply put, beautiful piano lead, which is one of the several examples of variation of instruments in the songs. Another example being the electronic beat used in “Enfilade,” along with its eerie vocal effects. Really, every song has its subtle variations that are not only different from every other song on the album, but are quite different from anything I’ve ever heard before. Some variations are just more apparent than others. This keeps the songs just as fresh and exciting as the first time you heard them, every single time you listen to them afterwards. That’s what makes this album timeless; these songs, quite simply, never get old.
Every sound fits together perfectly like a puzzle. The transitions within and between the songs are dare I say, flawless. The way the ambient noise that ends “One Armed Scissor” seamlessly turns into the madness that is the first verse of “Sleepwalk Capsules,” the way the sounds at the end of “Quarantined” blast off into the main riff of “Cosmonaut,” it all just leaves me in awe. The transition from the second chorus into the interlude, and the actual interlude of course, of “Pattern Against User” is just…magical. The vocal trade-offs in the bridges of “Rolodex Propaganda,“ leading into its utterly amazing chorus…seriously, the chorus of this song is beyond words. The way the album manages to often sound like lightning striking a volcano as it’s erupting, while simultaneously flowing like a river, an extremely coherent river, is evidence that the songs were written with intellect, but executed with instinct. If this method works often in creating albums like these, more bands need to adopt it immediately.
Relationship of Command
is what happens when talented songwriters use their minds to write good, coherent songs, but perform them with their gut and their heart. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but it always knows where it’s going. It’s an intense, unrestrained musical force that rips your insides out and displays them in front of you, a musical journey that envelops you and keeps you enthralled the whole way through, whether you asked it to or not. This album will always be relevant, for it’s human feeling, emotion, and energy transformed into captivating music. As you listen to it relentlessly shattering the cage of your speakers, take the journey through yourself and scream. Scream what you feel. It doesn’t matter if you’re screaming the same words the album is, what matters is you’re feeling something, and you’re letting the whole world know. Scream. Scream what you feel. Relationship of Command
is telling you to scream your ***ing lungs out.