Monday, December 21, 2009

Case File #16: "Sleepwalk Capsules"

At the Drive-In
"Sleepwalk Capsules"
Relationship of Command

The need to know: Once upon a time there was this great band called At the Drive-In. But, as is the story of many great bands, the group called it quits just before making it big. In the aftermath the band divided into two camps (deep rooted creative differences caused the break), with Jim Ward going on to found the considerably more radio-friendly Sparta and Cedrix Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez forming the much more experimental The Mars Volta. Their final album as At the Drive-In, 2000's Relationship of Command has nevertheless found its place as not just one of the best albums of the decade, but one of the most influential post-hardcore (and some would say rock) albums ever recorded. 

Why it's worthy: One of the great things about ATDI, a characteristic that many of their followers ignored, was that even at their most ferocious, Bixler-Zavala's vocals never devolve into completely incomprehensible, though serrated, madness. Which is good considering ominous political overtones subtly coat the bulk of the band's material. "Sleepwalk Capsules" alone is rife with references to religion and politics, Julius Caesar and The Emperor's New Clothes. And while screams and shouts perfectly compliment the band's onslaught of guitar cacophony, especially when Bixler-Zavala and Ward play at call-and-response, his words don't get lost in the well-orchestrated mess.

Quotable lyric: "All utensils are fixed on you/ Atop this podium split in confession/ Dripping with drool from the nerves of this sentence"

Where you've heard it: At the Drive-In's "One Armed Scissor" is a playable song on Guitar Hero World Tour.

Get obsessed:

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