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At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
(08/22/2005)


At the Drive-In is a band famous for blistering intensity. That intensity isnít not the ominous, powerful intensity of metal, nor is it simply a lyrical intensity. Itís intensity in itís purest form. The sound of ATDI is intensity.

I said itís not simply a lyrical intensity, but the lyrics are, well, intense. The band is known for a head-trip (though not nearly so much as the Mars Volta, one of this bandís descendants), though this doesnít dampen the experience. Itís the sort of situation where investing time in it will enrich the experience, but is definitely not necessary. This is due in part to who sings them, Cedric Bixler, who screams, though not in the unintelligible and demonic sense, which is becoming more and more popular, but the sort that simply communicates, yes, intensity. He does it not only well, but so much that his vocal cords probably get blisters.

The instruments, of course, all fill their due parts for intensity. Both the drums and the bass (Tony Hajjar and Paul Hinojos) drive the band at intense speeds that make you realize that Bixler isnít the only one working hard. Omar Rodriguez and Jim Ward form the second crowning acheivement of intensity as guitarists, playing, soloing, and generally wailing at speeds so fast and hard you probably wonít even know what to do with yourself.

ďRelationship of CommandĒ is the final album of this band. Regrettably, they were too intense for themselves and had to split into to daughter bands, the Mars Volta and Sparta. As a last album, you could expect that this was their most successful exercise in intensity, and, in fact, is probably reflective of that intense breaking point.

Iíve probably removed meaning from the word ďintenseĒ by now, but itís justified. Still, for your sake, Iíll say this: this album is damn good, and if you have any love for contemporary rock, this will be a worthy investment in one of its fringe successes.

Cool Hand Luke gives Leftfield's "Leftism"

Four Cigarettes. Solid, solid.

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