You know — the first time I heard At the Drive-In, I thought the vocalist was singing in Japanese.
That’s because I’d been listening to a lot of Number Girl at the time, and At the Drive-Inn share some similarities with the Japanese punk quartet.
At the Drive-In’s angular guitar work, as demonstrated on its breakthrough Relationship of Command, calls to mind the Pixies.
“One Armed Scissor” serves as a perfect example. The song starts with a dischordant crunch, and the first verse uneasily moves along in 3/4 time till it hits a screaming chorus in 4/4.
In other words, there’s some smart stuff happening on this album, and it loses none of its visceral power. If anything, At the Drive-In performs the kind of punk music that doesn’t recognize that grunge ever existed.
Cedric Bixler growls, screams and belts his way over the chaotic guitar work of Jim Ward and Omar Rodriguez. The two guitarists weave a tapestry of dissonant lines and fist-pumping, head-banging riffs against a thuderous rhythm section.
The result: an intense 44 minutes of unbridled rage.
It’s hard to single out any one song — “Invalid Litter Dept.” has the most memorable chorus with the line “Dancing on the corpse of ashes” — because it’s all hard, all fiery and all good.
Korn producer Ross Robinson gives At the Drive-In a Nevermind sheen to Relationship of Command, but no amount of studio trickery can tame the band’s rough delivery.
It’s too bad the band announced an indefinite hiatus from touring and recording (although after seven years of non-stop work, it’s certainly deserved.) At the Drive-In deserves all the recognition its earned up till now.