Wednesday, 17 April 2013

At The Drive-In- Acrobatic Tenement/ Relationship Of Command (Reissues)

Following on from a brief (unsuccessful) reunion last year as well as reissues of "Vaya" and "In/ Casino/ Out" comes the re-release of two more seminal albums from post-hardcore pioneers, AT THE DRIVE-IN. This time around of their hard to find debut, "Acrobatic Tenement", and their swansong, "Relationship Of Command". For those of you who are unfamiliar with the band, they were one of the most forward thinking post-hardcore bands of the 90s and are talked about with the same reverence as the likes of HOT SNAKES, FUGAZI and REFUSED. You will probably also be familiar with the core of the band, Omar Rodríguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who went on to form prog trailblazers THE MARS VOLTA as well as a whole host of other projects. All this history, though, would count for nothing if the music was no good but luckily both "Acrobatic Tenement" and "Relationship Of Command" are molten slabs of post-hardcore genius.

While "Acrobatic Tenement" lacks the refinement and production values of "Relationship Of Command", the album still has plenty of evidence of their wildly inventive approach to songwriting. "Acrobatic Tenement" has always been underappreciated in preference of their later releases (of the 11 tracks here only "Initiation" was featured on their "This Staion Is Non-Operational" career retrospective) but it's still an essential musical history lesson. Along with their distinctive mix of '90s hardcore  and off-kilter riffing, on their debut album they also take a punt at pop-punk providing a sheer contrast to the frenetic pace of their heavier tracks. Overall, it isn't the highlight of their career but it more than hints at the great things to come and for any fan it's still an essential purchase. (8/10)

Widely regarded as their masterpiece, "Relationship Of Command" was At The Drive-In's final album and has provided an inspiration for countless post-hardcore bands over the 12 years since its original release. Featuring guest vocals from IGGY POP ("Rolodex Propoganda") and an arsenal of surefire punk rock hits with all the ingenuity and charm you'll have since come to expect from Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-Lopez, the album saw ATD-I continuing their transition to genuine underground icons poised at the brink of stardom. It's since been well documented in the reasoning behind their split how ATD-I lost interest in the post-hardcore scene but it bears pointing out that the band never allowed themselves to be restricted by genre anyway. With production from the godfather of nu-metal, Ross Robinson, "Relationships Of Command" flew in the face of expectations while still retaining the band's unique sound. Over a decade later, it still sounds as vital as it ever did. (9/10)

These reissue provide two classic snapshots of genre shaping post-hardcore albums and, while (with the exception of "Catacombs" on "Relationship Of Command") they don't come with any bonus material, are essential additions to any record collection that hasn't already found them a home.

"Acrobatic Tenement" and "Relationship Of Command" are both out now through Transgressive

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