Post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In have had a busy year. Between touring all over the place, playing a host of dates across the globe (including several dates supporting Royal Blood in the UK) and the release of their long-awaited fourth studio album, ‘in•ter a•li•a’, ATDI haven’t exactly been resting on their laurels in 2017. ‘Diamante’, a three-track EP, bookends the year for them, although not exactly on a high note.
‘in•ter a•li•a’ caught its fair share of criticism, but ATDI at least sounded invested in what they were doing on that release. ‘Diamante’ feels generally half-hearted and is bogged down by bass-heavy mixing. While this production choice does sometimes comes across as an interesting and different way to do things, it mostly just makes the EP sound tired and bored. The songwriting isn’t great either – while opener ‘Amid Ethics’ is fun and bouncy in places, it fails to really go anywhere.
In addition, Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s singing is weak throughout most of ‘Diamante’. His signature spoken-word-cum-shouting devolves into warbling on the aforementioned ‘Amid Ethics’, and his attempt at doo-bopping scat-esque vocals on ‘Despondent At High Noon’ is painful to listen to. On the plus side, it has some interesting rhythmic elements, boosted by the EP’s bass-centric production, but doesn’t do enough with this, and overall fails to pack a punch.
The final track, ‘Point of Demarkation’, has some promise in its instrumentation. The subtle piano flavours the background during the pre-chorus and various other parts of the track, and Bixler-Zavala manages to sound cool and breezy in certain parts of the song. Once again, though, by the time the it reaches its main refrain, he sounds strained once again.
‘Diamante’ is quite clearly an EP of leftovers and does very little to hide that fact. It’s not completely irredeemable and shows hints of promise, but the songwriting and execution leave a lot to be desired.
‘Diamante’ EP by At the Drive-In is out now on Rise Records.
Words by Alan Cunningham (funeral_polis)