At The Drive-In

Relationship Of Command (Grand Royal ’00) Rating: A
This album appeared on many a year-end critic list, and at first I was disappointed. But that was only because I wasn’t playing it loud enough, and after several more spins with my speakers blaring it soon became apparent that this was the punk rock record of the year. The band’s beyond-explosive sound at various times brings to mind Fugazi, Rage Against The Machine, the MC5 (they likewise sport some serious afros), The Offspring, and even War-era U2 (“Quarantined”). Yet At the Drive-In have plenty of their own tricks up their collective sleeves, usually going fast and furious with a totally over the top intensity, but also proving themselves capable of moodier and melodic passages. The end result is a truly fresh sound and a generally thrilling album. Their sound is led by guitarists Omar and Jim’s (in true punk fashion, no last names necessary) razor like riffs, some explosive, shape shifting dynamics (Pall on bass and Tony, who’s a real standout, on drums), and Cedric’s powerful punk shout alongs, which at the very least sure sound like a matter of life and death. Relationship Of Command contains 12 slices of no bullshit, high-energy music with a great hard rock drive, as the band treads a narrow terrain but crams every nook and cranny full of cool and creative sounds. Of course, this is also their weakness, as Revolver magazine noted: “sometimes the band sounds like it’s trying to pack every good idea it ever had into each song.” However, the positives here easily overwhelm any negatives, as the ultra intense At The Drive-In deserve (and will command) your undivided attention and respect - just make sure you play it loud. Alas, after this album the band broke up, its various members splintering into parts of Sparta and The Mars Volta.

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