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At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command Album Cover

At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command

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9.7
At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
Record Label: Grand Royal Records
Release Date: September 12, 2000; November 9, 2004 (Fearless Records reissue)
It is one of the music industries greatest tragedies that Relationship of Command, At the Drive-In's third album, was to be their last. The band imploded soon after at the height of their popularity, and the members split to form new groups. Jim Ward and Tony Hajjir created Sparta, more of a traditional post-hardcore/emo styled band, whereas Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodgriguez-Lopez and later Paul Hinojos went on to create The Mars Volta, widely considered to be one of the best progressive rock bands on the scene. Due to their self-destruction, Relationship of Command stands as At the Drive-In's defining work, and it certainly does the band's work justice. Dark, cryptic lyrics blend together with raging riffs and hooks over heated percussion to create an album that almost personifies post-hardcore punk. It's aggressive, it's vibrant, and it's ceaselessly energetic, but it's also At the Drive-In's most controlled and focused album of their career. Over the course of eleven songs (thirteen on the 2004 re-release) the music will repeatedly blow your mind.

The album begins all guns blazing; "Arcarsenal" hits hard and fast with screaming vocals over heavy churning guitar riffs and loud percussion that continually builds throughout the song before ending at the highest point. “‘Pattern Against User" is a brilliantly energetic song that commands anyone listening to bang their heads or jump around like fools. Fast-paced and suitably loud, Bixler-Zavala's vocals here are some of his best. The song breaks and eases into a mellower mood very effectively before increasing the velocity for the final chorus. "One Armed Scissor" continues the theme of loud, fast songs. The almost poppy vocals over raging riffs and amazing bass lines forges a track that almost personifies At the Drive-In in its brooding magnificence and incredible passion. "One Armed Scissor" is often the first song that comes to mind when one mentions At the Drive-In; it was their most successful single, and the title of their compilation album, This Station is Non-Operational, is taken from a lyric in "One Armed Scissor." The music takes an interesting break at the conclusion of "One Armed Scissor" before revving up into "Sleepwalk Capsules," a song almost spastic in speed. "Invalid Litter Dept." might be the best song on the album. Much more brooding, methodical, and textured than the previous songs, it's the longest track on the album at just over six minutes. Earnest and passionate, the song focuses on an issue close to the hearts of this El Paso based group – the Juarez murders and the controversy surrounding them. After the insanity of the first four songs, "Invalid Litter Dept." is a welcome relief that maintains the dynamic feel. The song also builds to a tremendous crescendo with Bixler-Zavala's distorted vocals over a heavy riff before easing out.

"Mannequin Republic" turns up the volume again as a fast, crazy song. It should be noted that although the overall theme and movements of "Pattern Against User," "One Armed Scissor," "Mannequin Republic," and later "Cosmonaut" are essentially the same, At the Drive-In does enough to make them stand out enough so they’re individually brilliant. "Enfilade" is one of the most unique tracks on the album. The song begins with Iggy Pop playing the part of a kidnapper, then after some cool sonic sounds effects and Bixler-Zavala's distorted vocals, it rises sharply with an amazingly energetic chorus with insane riffs and Bixler-Zavala's screams of "sacrificed on rail-road tracks, freight train coming, freight train coming." The darkness of the song is clear and devastatingly effective. Towards the end of the album the music begins to slip into a more melodic and softer vibe while still maintaining the passion and sincerity of the previous songs. "Quarantined" is five-and-a-half minutes of churning guitars over effective textured sounds and excellent vocals. The volume is maintained, but the speed is reduced, which keeps the earnestness while creating an easier feel. "Cosmonaut" revs up again with non-stop insanity over screaming vocals and provides a nice interlude between the two slower songs which finish the album. "Non-Zero Possibility" concludes the album on a good note; the music is slower and more deliberate and the incorporation of a piano melody with nice effects gives the song a good vibe. Bixler-Zavala's vocals are at their softest and easiest here and there is a good minute of ambient distorted sounds at the end to ease the listener out of the record.

At the Drive-In's ability to maintain their energy and dynamic intensity over the course of the record is simply phenomenal. Even at their least inspired moments ("Rolodex Propaganda"), the music is fun, well conceived, and sufficiently loud and fast to satisfy hardcore fans. At the Drive-In prove with Relationship of Command that they are not only excellent musicians, but also brilliant songwriters, and nowhere is that combination more apparent than here. Although fans of At the Drive-In during their peak would argue that it is impossible to truly know the real At the Drive-In until you've seen them live, this album comes closest to bring their amazing live energy and intensity to their fans in album form. Clearly one of the most influential hardcore records of the modern era, Relationship of Command defines At the Drive-In, and in fact all of post-hardcore, and it does both a significant compliment. Relationship of Command is the reason why At the Drive-In is remembered so fondly by fans, and more than six years after its initial release, the album is still engaging, imaginative, and simply brilliant.

Recommended If You LikeGlassjaw; Jawbreaker; awesomeness; old Thrice; cu-cu-cu-cu-cutting it; Helmet; Iggy Pop; tasting skin

myspace.com/atdi
This review is a user submitted review from BrokenMirror. You can see all of BrokenMirror's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 55
11:26 AM on 11/02/07
#2
Adrian Villagomez
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Good review, but I disagree that "Rolodex Propaganda" is a least inspired moment.
12:14 AM on 11/03/07
#3
Johnnybot2000
Kidchino08 + Oregon =
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fucking great boss
this is one of the best.
12:29 AM on 11/03/07
#4
tomass2112
razzle dazzle
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Greatest Album Of All Time? Or All Time Greatest Album?
12:30 AM on 11/03/07
#5
concealer611
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One of the greatest I have ever heard, thats for sure! It stands the test of time.
02:56 AM on 11/03/07
#6
Vismund_Cygnus
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This album did not just set the bar for post hardcore music...it completely revolutionized rock music in general.
03:29 AM on 11/03/07
#7
adeepname
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This album will forever be in my top 5 of all time. The only album i can think of that is just as influential in the shaping of my musical taste would be The Beatles "White Album"
05:21 AM on 11/03/07
#8
BrokenMirror
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now that i think about it looking at the score, this album deserves a lot higher than a 95%, like at least a 97%

i know it seems weird tackling such a monstrous album for my first ever album review at the site, but i figured that for my first try i should write about an album that i know and love a lot, hence Relationship of Command (Jason's already reviewed Vheissu, my favourite album ever). and i think for a first time i did an admirable job. major thanks to Adrian for his editing and his advise.

if you have never heard this album before, your life is incomplete. and i agree with Vismund Gygnus; this album did revolutionise all rock music
07:10 AM on 11/03/07
#9
Gustavatron.
9:13
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99% would've been fair.
07:34 AM on 11/03/07
BrokenMirror
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99% would've been fair.

i completely agree. if ever an album deserved a 99%+ rating its this one
08:13 AM on 11/03/07
Jamais_vu
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now that i think about it looking at the score, this album deserves a lot higher than a 95%, like at least a 97%

i know it seems weird tackling such a monstrous album for my first ever album review at the site, but i figured that for my first try i should write about an album that i know and love a lot, hence Relationship of Command (Jason's already reviewed Vheissu, my favourite album ever). and i think for a first time i did an admirable job. major thanks to Adrian for his editing and his advise.

if you have never heard this album before, your life is incomplete. and i agree with Vismund Gygnus; this album did revolutionise all rock music

The problem is the lyric rating. I mean come the fuck on dude these are some of the best lyrics you will find on ANY record. 10 for lyrics.
09:27 AM on 11/03/07
phatredge
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A top 5 for me too. Such an incredible and complete album
10:28 AM on 11/03/07
mogwaifearsatan
feels good man
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I didn't realize there were still people who hadn't heard this cd.
10:44 AM on 11/03/07
BigbOYALA
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I absolutely love this album, but a 9.25 on vocals? Come on...
11:09 AM on 11/03/07
InaGreendase
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This album is one of my all-time favorites, easily.

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