REVIEW – AT THE DRIVE IN
At The Drive In – in•ter a•li•a (Rise Records)
Genre – Punk
Fans have been made to wait 17 years for a new At The Drive In album, following splits, reunions, side projects and now a second reunion, but the heavily influential Texan five piece have returned, and appear sharper than ever.
During this 17 year stretch Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez formed the Mars Volta, who went on to become one of the most musically diverse bands on the planet, and the craftsmanship explored during this time has carried through to At The Drive In.
This craftsmanship is clear from the opening riffs of No Wolf Like The Present, which sees At The Drive In burst into life with a venomous electric cry. Despite the break ups, the shake ups and all the shit in between, the five piece appear tighter than ever on this record, with big punching sounds screaming from every corner of the opening track.
Much like fellow 90s superstars Rage Against The Machine, At The Drive In are a band that thrive on tight musicianship combined with the presence of an aggressive, skatty ‘singer.’ This style is particularly prevalent in Tilting At The Univendor and Governed By The Contagions, which both sees punching, sharp musical displays overlaid by a singer who brilliantly creates an infectious sense of uncertainty, seemingly stemming from pure spontaneity.
This ‘skatty’ style is one of the big draws to At The Drive In. It’s this vocal style combined with pristine playing that separates At The Drive In from the thousands of other bands desperate to get to the top, so when Cedric Bixler’s vocals become more polished, their appeal wanes slightly. This is the case in mid album tracks Incurably Innocent and Call Broken Arrow, where his vocals are clean, sterile and pop punkish.
Despite this minor blip, At The Drive In pull in back round with Holtzclaw and Torrentially Cutshaw. Both tracks are filled with big hooks, pounding drum patterns and Bixler’s raw, energy infused vocals which create havoc at their uncontrollable best. This uncontrollable style fiercely finishes off the album in Hostage Stamps (watch the video above), which sees At The Drive In deliver pure melodic chaos – a perfect way to tie off a welcome return.
At The Drive In have played a number of shows recently, with rave reviews pouring in. Their talent is undeniable, but the question will always remain with this band – just how long before they implode once again?
RUSHONROCK RATED – 8/10 Intensely melodic, unpredictable chaos!
Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.