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Album Review: At The Drive-In – Inter Alia

At The Drive-In returns after 17 years with Inter Alia.  Station = Operational


Text Review:

Inter Alia is the first album from At The Drive-In since 2000.  It has been seventeen years since we have been able to say that we get to hear a NEW At The Drive-In album.  Normally when a band breaks up it’s almost too much to hope for a reunion tour let alone a new album, but in 2017 we have been given something most people had given up on long ago.  While Inter Alia and At The Drive-In unfortunately are now without founding member Jim Ward which is an unfortunate circumstance, it’s still hard not to get excited for the phrase “new music from At The Drive-In”.  Not only that but we were given this news when we heard a new song this past DECEMBER with “Governed By Contagions” and many people, including myself, lost their minds.

In a world of music, including the rock scene, we are surrounded by record labels and radio broadcasters who only want to give singles.  No depth or full format, just the quick attention to sell for money.  On the opposite side of that direction is At The Drive-In, where Cedric Bixler-Zavala is about as far as wanting to only promote singles as it gets.  In an interview online with NME about Inter Alia, Cedric said: “I hope we don’t ever bow down to the single-based format. I hope we can at least be one of the last people fighting for LPs. It’s going to be hard to adapt to the way things are now, but it’s a great challenge.”

I’ve gone on for over 20 minutes about the band’s previous album Relationship of Command and how it was a miracle that a song like “One-Armed Scissor” actually got airplay during the nu-metal explosion, but fast forward to 2017 and once again, we are hearing NEW At The Drive-In on the radio.  Whether you want to call them singles or not is up for debate, but I can’t think of a song better than “Governed By Contagions” to get fans excited for a new album

In the first few seconds with the opening guitar riffs from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez you get the feeling this song was meant to break the door down and announce At The Drive-In was back.  The lyrics instantly resemble the surreal and cryptic connections that At The Drive-In were once known for.  The chorus with the guillotine clap and the bridge is all unique and absolutely fantastic.  The delivery on this song is frantic and it makes three and a half minutes go by like it’s 30 seconds.  Cedric sounds fierce AND clear in his singing as this has quickly become one of my favorite At The Drive-In songs.  When you listen to Inter Alia all the way through it will be difficult to not go back and play this song again, but that will happen a lot as the first half of this album is extremely strong and worth revisiting instantly.

“No Wolf Like The Present”, “Continuum”, “Tilting At The Univendor”, these opening songs have such a strong hook and everything from the wild drum pounding to the memorable phrases resemble everything At The Drive-In fans could hope for.  The presentation is solid and you can hear that the band worked on these songs for quite a while to get it all down.  The speed that Inter Alia starts on with “No Wolf Like The Present” and “Continuum” not only keep that post-hardcore sound that they are known for alive but also giving something that resembles NOTHING ELSE in today’s rock scene.  This feeling goes for a majority of this album as well.

There are a few tracks that will lose your focus and don’t carry the same memorable groove like “Torrentially Cutshaw” and “Ghost-Tape No. 9”.  Other songs like “Call Broken Arrow” and the previously released “Incurably Innocent” resemble the Antemasque vibe form a couple years ago.  It’s hard to really knock any of these songs though as they undeniably have the identity of Cedric and Omar covered all over them.  Whether you love what you hear from At The Drive-In in 2017 or not, you can’t deny that definitely sounds like At The Drive-In.

I am one of the many people who were cautiously optimistic when At The Drive-In started touring again 2016.  And while Jim Ward may no longer be a part of the current lineup, I still can’t help but smile when I know that At The Drive-In is back, and what they have delivered in 2017 stands up with the rest of their past work.  Overall, while Inter Alia may not be the greatest work At The Drive-In will be known for, it still will more than satisfy even the staunched of old At The Drive-In fans as well as earning many newer ones in this generation.  For the first time in many years, we can say this station is operational.



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Album Review: At The Drive-In – Inter Alia