At the Drive-In
Relationship of Command


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
November 15th, 2011 | 1002 replies | 33,214 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Aurally vicious, powerfully groundbreaking, and deeply moving, At the Drive-In create a pure hard-edged masterpiece.

Have you ever listened to an album that is so powerful that it never lets you go until the second it's over? Records that are this spellbinding are exceptionally rare and usually put out by the musically elite. Such is the case with At the Drive-In from El Paso, Texas; the band combined influences from prog rock, hardcore punk, surreal ambience, and metal to create a landmark in modern music.

We were certainly given a good glimpse of the band's sound in previous records; Acrobatic Tenement had a very rushed (in a good way), spastic sound to it; In/Casino/Out had a bit of a more melodic feel yet still being intense/fast as the band were gaining steam, as well as extra attention from the underground music community. Even the EP Vaya had gathered extra pieces to this collective puzzle; This monolithic puzzle would be known as Relationship of Command.

Even from the get-go, maracas and heavy-rolling drums pick you up and pull you straight into the fray, as melody, vocals, dissonance, and heavy percussion clash in a crazed battle for dominance. A very spastic, angular, yet oddly organized sound is delivered, and in spades. One of the first things you might notice is how odd Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals are, although you might be familiar with them from The Mars Volta. His voice certainly isn't for everyone, but he always delivers the goods here. His eccentric personality and voice fit the music perfectly, or at least better than a more gruff singer.

The other members never have any background time either; everything in the album is up-close and personal, whether the song is a ballad or a full-on riff-fest. As I mentioned earlier, every instrument attempts to overpower the other; However, the sound is somehow very concise, focused, and coordinated all the same. You won't hear any meandering throughout the album; one of the biggest examples here is opener "Arcarsenal." The song is a quick attack designed to knock you off your feet, and it works very effectively as an opener.

Perhaps the best representation of the band's sound comes in the first four songs in general. "Arcarsenal," "Pattern Against User," "One-Armed Scissor," and "Sleepwalk Capsules" kick your ass before the next songs can even start making a move. "Sleepwalk Capsules" is probably the best of the four, utilizing everything the band had in their arsenal up to that point. There's the powerfully immediate, no-holds-barred intro; the chilly climax of atmospheric angular guitar work; heavily emotional and diverse vocals, and so on. "Pattern Against User" has a somewhat alternative section at the end with some nice picking on Omar's guitar, offering further diversity in the band's sound. "One-Armed Scissor" is the most popular song on the album, as well as by the band. Again, the song wastes no time with its aggression and power, immediately pushing the listener into the crowded sound before entering an effective soft-to-loud pattern that's generally adhered to for the rest of the song.

After the first four songs, you'd think the band would falter with the remaining songs. WRONG! In fact, the band's sound gains more depth as it goes along; more atmosphere, progressiveness, and piano are used, further adding a cohesive diversity that few punk acts can boast to have. Overall, I'd say that the oddest and most interesting track on the album is the closer "Non-Zero Possibility." There's absolutely nothing that resembles punk; even calling this rock would be quite a stretch, as the song is a dreamy yet sad ballad. The song pretty much displays all the emotion that Cedric could muster with his vocal abilities, and the piano is a very effective addition to bringing passion to the track. Overall, the song is excellent, and a very fitting closer to the album.

As I said before, one of the most interesting aspects about this album is how there's no musician left behind (No George W. Bush references, please). Even the bass, which is usually drowned out in other bands, is fully present here, and adds to the visceral brutality of the heavier tracks. The guitars add layers and sheets of sound to the music. The vocalist is up in front, plowing through whatever comes his way, and the drummer is extremely powerful and precise behind the kit. Overall, each member serves his role effectively and doesn't get lost between other instruments.

All in all, this has to be one of the best modern rock albums; a grand powerhouse of hardcore punk with twists, turns, and trap-doors. Aurally vicious, powerfully groundbreaking, and deeply moving, Relationship of Command remains a timeless masterpiece.

At the Drive-In were:

Cedric Bixler – Lead vocals, Guitar on "Rolodex Propaganda", Melodica on "Enfilade"
Jim Ward – Guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Omar RodrΓ*guez – Guitar, backing vocals
Paul Hinojos – Bass
Tony Hajjar – Drums
Iggy Pop – Guest vocals on "Rolodex Propaganda" and "Enfilade"



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user ratings (3225)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
sniper
November 15th 2011



18584 Comments


neg'd

taxidermist
November 15th 2011



7175 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

neg'd [2]

SatelliteYears
November 15th 2011



188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, ignore the negs. Very in-depth and articulate.

DinoX
November 15th 2011



3582 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Neg

someguest
November 15th 2011



18878 Comments


I can't stand this album.

Digging: BABYMETAL - Babymetal

Xenophanes
Emeritus
November 15th 2011



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not gonna read but great rating

Digging: Saintseneca - Dark Arc

Maize
November 15th 2011



148 Comments


oh hey

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

man i need to finish my re-write of this album, your first paragraph was kinda contrived but im sure it evened out once you got over the hyperbole (dont wanna read and contaminate my own reviewww)

anyways, album is still in my top 3 of all time

ShinXetsu
November 16th 2011



605 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Absolute classic.

taxidermist
November 16th 2011



7175 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Great review, ignore the negs. Very in-depth and articulate.

Dude, it's a joke, lol.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

oh, and just skimming, i dont know how non-zero possibility doesn't fit the realm of punk. a super weird, noisy and abrasive off kilter song isnt punk?

taxidermist
November 16th 2011



7175 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Proooooooooooooootoooooooooooocuuuuuuuuuuuultuuuuuuuuuuuuuure nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuull aaaaaaaaand vooooooooooid.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

it is a weird song? i dont know what your point is

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

tbh its super influenced by the more noise-based black flag shit. omar and cedric were probably just too strung out to shred

someguest
November 16th 2011



18878 Comments


i opened my internet up and I heard this sucking sound all the way on my usatoday homepage

and here I find Iluvatar

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

some days im glad chambered is just a super retarded troll instead of a super smart user, god it would suck to have actual conversation with him

and where there is a post about relationship of command THERE IS AN ILUVATAR READY TO FAPFAPFAP

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



17913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

dude john you can't talk about punk music around here like people actually know what they're talking about

punk wasn't made to be talked about on the internet

someguest
November 16th 2011



18878 Comments


Hanson and this album:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdBcfRhzzAA

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

bro not romantic enough

someguest
November 16th 2011



18878 Comments


Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you



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