At the Drive-In
in•ter a•li•a


2.5
average

Review

by Tristan Jones STAFF
May 2nd, 2017 | 336 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: That's the way the toy monkey claps.

It’s difficult to approach in•ter a•li•a without feeling At The Drive-In’s previous efforts looming over one’s shoulder. The average Relationship of Command acolyte (upon release) has roughly doubled in age since Y2K. Combining the forward-thinking ambiguity of that record with the chronological gap between then and now, many fans treat RoC - and, to a lesser extent, their other efforts - as sacrosanct. On in•ter a•li•a, At The Drive-In, and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala especially, have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you spend seventeen years treating musicians like demigods, expect them to act like it when they take the podium. In previous outings, Bixler-Zavala acted like someone on permanent red alert, knocking on doors and grabbing strangers by the shirt collars in a frenzy. Here, he has graduated to cult leadership. He now sings with shrewd deliberation, rather than manic obsession; more suited to a stadium than delirium; no longer shouting skyward among rubble and disarray, now shouting outward to a legion of drunk, grinning faces. Like Billie Joe Armstrong did with Green Day’s American Idiot, Cedric has matured quite a bit, and realized there are hordes of devoted listeners sincerely eager to hear his messages. But, Billie Joe had something to say, and said it simply. in•ter a•li•a is chock full of anthems that lack the emotional weight of actual anthems, and the only cogent message is the fanfare of homecoming.

That’s not to say in•ter a•li•a is a failure. Quite the opposite, it’s exactly the album we expected, and probably the one many fans need. The album embodies the solidarity in rejoicing as brothers-in-arms. Many of the best ATD-I moments of yore were when the song culminated in Cedric belting sweatily and with conviction; and it’s difficult to not want to scream “I write to rememberrrrr!” on “One-Armed Scissor”, or “Ayachuco, ayachuco, ayachuco!” on “Chanbara” (after googling the lyrics, or hopelessly ad-libbing), alongside him. in•ter a•li•a is one call to arms after another after another. These are songs intended to amp up an audience and alter the earth’s axial tilt with every jump. At times, we can envision guitarists Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Keeley Davis (from Sparta) as Coma-Doof Warriors, playing with nonstop dedication, as though in shackles. They steal the show, and can’t really be criticized in terms of technicality and inventiveness. “Tilting at the Univendor” could probably fit in on 1999’s Vaya or 1998's In/Casino/Out: it’s youthful and lighthearted, laden with guitar hooks, and an engaging relationship between drummer Tony Hajjar and bassist Paul Hinojos. In a recent interview with NME, Hajjar said of their newest, “when it was done we went into the studio control room, the last day of recording, we all just hugged each other.” Basically, in•ter a•li•a is, indeed, a big group hug.

This is a bit of an odd way for the dust to settle. The jump cuts add some conceptual intrigue, with utterances of sterilization and government-imposed curfews (on “Call Broken Arrow”), and sounds equal part slime and static (on “No Wolf Like The Present”); but, rarely do we truly feel threatened. Cedric isn’t the Abbie Hoffman of post-hardcore, but he walks the walk, theatrics and all. This album is made for the stage, and the vocalist is no longer the ambivert he once was. On “Incurably Innocent”, which, according to Bixler-Zavala is supposed to be based on a newfound ability to shed light on sexual abuse, the limelight still includes Hinojos, Hajjar, Rodriguez-Lopez, and Davis, who render the song a flourish of instrumentation - not a compelling psychodrama. Previous albums at least had moments of calm introspection that played off of the surrounding storm, humanizing Bixler-Zavala. in•ter a•li•a doesn’t quit. There is no time to make sense of preceding chaos, probably because there is nothing worth making sense of. Penultimate "Ghost-Tape No. 9" dials things back a bit, sure, but it calls to mind the weaker The Mars Volta ballads where the most interesting portion is the instrumental coda. On past efforts (yes, we’re belabouring the comparisons here a bit), the band members played and sang with such conviction, you’d be fairly certain they meant every single word, however farfetched. Here, we all know it’s nonsensical and fun. We’re in on the gag. The Trojan horse isn’t so captivating when you’re inside it. Even less so when there are no walls left to breach.




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other reviews of this album
Winesburgohio CONTRIBUTOR (3)
counterpoint:...

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Jagged pulp sliced in my veins, I write to remember...

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A valiant effort from the post-hardcore legends that suffers from a lack of authenticity....


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


6107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thx earshot media / rise records for the promo. don't send hit squads





hope you all like this more than I, but alas

ianblxdsoe
May 2nd 2017


486 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

awesome review dude, hope i enjoy this at least a lil bit :/ i like your use of vocab in this too. the only things i've noticed were in the second paragraph you meant to italicize lyrics and you made a typo with the /i. also i think it's Billie Joe Armstrong and not Billy. otherwise, great review

Digging: Mom Jeans - best buds

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


6107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

derpity derp, ofc i made a goof, as is tradition. terrible north american 90s kid etiquette on my part

StKiyo
May 2nd 2017


369 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh well, this will be another comeback album I love and people around here hate great review tho

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


777 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review. still hyped af

Digging: Bereft (USA-WI) - Lands

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


6107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

it's a hype album in tone tbh, but just doesn't tickle me

Prancer
May 2nd 2017


249 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agreed with the review, the album seems like it will be pretty forgettable in time. Only track I really enjoyed was the closer.

FourthReich
May 2nd 2017


1970 Comments


Love u johnny

Storm In A Teacup
May 2nd 2017


21799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

ooohhh I forgot this was coming. Gotta hear it. I'm sure all the music reviewers are right that it's awesome.

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wait is this in Olympus??

kingdedethefifth
May 2nd 2017


2792 Comments


I wonder what compelled them to write something after a 17 year break

Digging: Whoredom Rife - Dommedagskvad

StrizzMatik
May 2nd 2017


3586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Very well written, but I disagree. It's quite good, just not Earth-shattering

Digging: Roger Waters - Is This The Life We Really Want?

cylinder
May 2nd 2017


507 Comments


Really surprised this exists, given what Omar has said about playing ATD-I songs in the past (that 'old t-shirt' comment..) RoC was such a killer album to go out on too.. I'll give this a listen cuz I love the style these guys had but I'm not expecting much tbh. Astute review

Digging: Pure - Fetor

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


6107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@xeno - nah, i got it privately. not sure if Willie has connections with Rise Records

bloc
May 2nd 2017


41595 Comments


Band is genitalia

Digging: Yellow Magic Orchestra - Solid State Survivor

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


6107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

will buy that summary:

gen•it a•li•a





(fyi, ftwc, i actually like this band :* )

tcat84
May 2nd 2017


1111 Comments


Releasing an album after more than a decade after putting out their best album and a classic before the hiatus is pretty much suicide. If this was released 2-3 years after it would probably get a higher rating.

Lucid
May 2nd 2017


7972 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

this album is hot garbage, in one ear and out the other. agree that it "doesn't quit" and there's no space to breathe and make sense of anything. prob not gonna revisit

FourthReich
May 2nd 2017


1970 Comments


Cant wait to hear refuseds lastest project

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2017


605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've really hated the singles so I actually don't know if I even want to hear this



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