At The Drive-In Relationship of Command

[Virgin; 2000]

Styles: indie rock, post punk
Others: Rage Against the Machine, Girls Against Boys

Greetings fellow armchair revolutionaries. At last the time has come to admit my egregious lies--I do not live in an abandoned subway tunnel, nor do I steal electricity from Con Ed, nor do I forgo mending my ancient black fatigues in favor of safety-pinning and re-safety-pinning them.

Somehow I managed to Get Old Before I Died, just like Pete Townshend. I was around for the very first wave of Punk Rock. It made me go out and start a band. I won't go into the painful details. We believed it all, we tried it all, we ended up hating each other, we were destroyed by the 80's--a truly and deeply evil time. Why am I telling you all this?

It has been a very long time since I felt this way about a rock band or a particular album. Oh, there were a few that gave me glimmers of hope...I'm sure you know the ones, why even mention them any more...but they all seemed to flicker and go out so quickly, imploding on some self-conscious trip or other. Then At the Drive In show up, and boy is my overpadded ass sore from the swing of their boots.

RELATIONSHIP OF COMMAND IS THE GREATEST ROCK ALBUM I HAVE HEARD IN THE LAST TEN YEARS. It annihilates anything that I've heard done or even attempted by a rock band coming from any direction imaginable. Deftly combining elements of hardcore punk, metal, psychedelia, post-hop indie rock and even dub reggae, this album somehow manages to give a nod to every band I've loved and listened to here in exile from the belief that music actually changed anything. Is that the outrageous dub melodica of Gang of Four? The wrenching guitar-beatings of Mission of Burma? The four-horsemen-galloping drums and bass of the Minutemen? Is that some unholy love child of Zack de la Rocha and Jeff Buckley singing? No...these guys truly sound like nothing and no one else, even though they've obviously studied everyone that has come before them...and they rock harder and more passionately than any of them. Without having to play empty-headed aggro jams full of dumb lyrics appropriated from stale gangsta rap, these guys absolutely blast to smithereens any of the competition out there.

And they do it with tasteful understated production values and lyrics that stand completely on their own as poetry. I'm not sure what "Send transmission from the one-armed scizzor" means, but I sure know that feeling is in my gut when I hear the call-response scream "CUT AWAY! CUT AWAY!" You can hear the blood pumping in this band's veins as they push back against an encroaching society. This is the maelstrom of creation and destruction that punk rock strove to be when people I knew lived and sometimes died for it way back when. Forget that other appropriated weak crapsters out there trying to pass themselves off as our punk neices and nephews. This album makes this aging veteran wish I was in this band! This is exactly the kind of music we all wanted to make but weren't smart enough to, or brave enough to. You will own this album somehow, some day, because this is the Source. This is the music that can keep us from curling up and dying...and which might inspire us to do it ourselves, again.

1. Arcarsenal
2. Pattern Against User
3. One Armed Scissor
4. Sleepwalk Capsules
5. Invalid Litter Dept.
6. Mannequin Republic
7. Enfilade
8. Rolodex Proaganda
9. Quarantined
10. Cosmonaut
11. Non-Zero Possibility