After a tantalisingly short reunion five years ago, post-hardcore innovators At the Drive In came back together properly last year and announced ‘In•ter a•li•a’, their first album in 17 years. The band quit while they were ahead after the release of 2000’s classic ‘Relationship of Command’, so a move like this was always going to raise eyebrows (especially after the ill-fated 2012 reunion).
Thankfully, ‘In•ter a•li•a’ puts any fears to rest pretty quickly, ripping through the exceedingly upbeat ‘No Wolf Like the Present’ and the slick chorus of ‘Continuum’. Neither track deviates too far from what one might expect from an ATDI track but these songs, and the rest of ‘In•ter a•li•a’, are just so well-crafted that it’s hard to care: ATDI are BACK, dammit!
‘In•ter a•li•a’ mostly sticks to the fast, punchy post-hardcore that ATDI are known for, with a slightly more melodic sensibility about a lot of the tracks. There’s also a fair amount of experimentation within this sound, showing a slight indication of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s and Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s tenure with The Mars Volta. ‘Governed by Contagions’ incorporates some layered, dark soundscapes on its verses, ‘Call Broken Arrow’ has some atmospherics and tortured vocals, and ‘Ghost Tape No. 9’ interestingly combines a sludgy riff with sparse backing instrumentation.
‘Incurably Innocent’, which Bixler-Zavala has noted deals with sexual abuse, has a sonically poignant chorus, which is fitting. It also features some of the album’s best guitar work and is generally a stand-out track and a good choice of single – although the level of quality is so high on ‘In•ter a•li•a’ that it’s not too bold to suggest that ATDI could’ve chosen any of these songs to represent the album.
‘In•ter a•li•a’, is not only a fine return to form for ATDI, it’s a fantastic album in its own right that shows the band progressing themselves while still staying true to their original musical intent.
‘In•ter a•li•a’ by At the Drive-In is released on 5th May on Rise Records.
Words by Alan Cunningham (funeral_polis)