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Album review: At the Drive-In’s ‘in*ter a*li*a’ picks up where the group left off in 2000

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At the Drive-In in•ter a•li•a

Four stars

Sluggish. Detached. Methodical. That was, in a nutshell, the disappointing Coachella 2012 reunion performance of At the Drive-In, an otherwise eruptive quintet known for its post-hardcore fury both in the studio and onstage. It begged the question: Would a new album be equally tepid and rote, especially in comparison to ATDI’s last album, the 2000 classic Relationship of Command? Miraculously, no. A confluence of defrosted band relations, artistic concentration, international tumult and renewed musical purpose has inspired in•ter a•li•a—that’s Latin for “among other things”—a smart bomb of a record that sees ATDI picking up where Relationship left off, frenetic yet focused, its anthemry now rawer and more exploratory.

Take “Incurably Innocent,” which incorporates metal’s rapid-fire drum rolls (by Tony Hajjar) and prog rock’s contrapuntal arpeggios (from Omar Rodríguez-López), balanced by the arena-rock stridency of singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and the choruses’ guitar harmonies. That structure serves ATDI well, especially in “Torrentially Cutshaw,” its punk charge sliced by Rodríguez-López’s angular, squalling riffage, and “Governed by Contagions,” earning its title through Bixler-Zavala’s infectious vocal hooks. Overall, the band’s melodic prowess harnesses the warfare in both the stanzas and the lyrics, delivering one rancorous sing-along after another.

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