Review Summary: Despite lyrical and stylistic boundaries, A Day to Remember knows their audience and speaks directly to them.
Metalcore and pop-punk astound me. Both (for the most part) started with a large first step, yet they tripped at the exact
same time. I can’t seem to figure out what caused these genres to slip. Over saturation, formulaic, and blatantly generic music gushed out of two genres that claimed to be underground. A Day to Remember took these two genres and fused them together. They produced their own spin on what these styles have to offer. Although a rocky start, years of energetic and engaging concerts formed a following that carried the band out of Ocala and onto the road. I had the luxury of watching this group grow. By attending local concerts, I was able to see the group start from the bottom of the lineup climb up to the opening act for the headliners.
That being said, I was intrigued when Bad Vibrations
released. A nasty divorce from Victory Records resulted in a self-published album and a lengthy hiatus. I can’t blame groups for taking breaks. Touring is exhausting and inspiration doesn’t come easy. The purpose of Bad Vibrations
is to restore A Day to Remember ‘back to their roots’ and bring forth a more natural sound. The album also explores the subject of stress and anxiety. The concept of the album isn’t one very common and makes for an interesting listen for those familiar with A Day to Remember.
The album itself starts off strong. The self-titled track goes full throttle and is a lot heavier than expected. The chunky riffs and melodic chorus are well done and show that A Day to Remember hasn’t missed a beat. McKinnon’s vocals take the forefront as he shows off his transitions from screaming to clean vocals like no one’s business. ‘Paranoia’ also cuts in with a nice exposition of the bands high octane style. ‘Exposed’ provides a surprising amount of experimentation for the group. The track serves as the proverbial heavy song of the album. The deep thumping riff slams through listeners ears and plays the bands strength. The melodic chorus, controlled chaos of a verse, and djent-style breakdown curate one of the best tracks of the album.
On the subject of experimentation, the band seemed to go through a lot of phases while composing Bad Vibrations
. Their interviews with Kerrang! Magazine provided a look into their headspace when writing the songs. ‘Bullfight’ was originally an acoustic track that guitarist Kevin Skaff recounted to have an ‘Americana’ and ‘Spanish’ vibe prior to recording. Skaff proceeded to recount how the song originally didn’t have a bridge section until much later on. The inclusion of the bridge gives the song some personality as well as a nice breakdown. “Brace! Fall,” indicates another in-your-face breakdown sure to be a crowd pleaser live.
Unlike other A Day to Remember albums, Bad Vibrations
doesn’t lose focus along the way. The album is rather consistent and doesn’t include much filler. The sound is a lot heavier and puts emphasis on riffs and occasionally solos. The sound is modernized and doesn’t stick to the traditional early 2000’s formula most are familiar with. Though, the sound doesn’t stray too far to the point of being unrecognizable.
My main complaint with the record is the lyrics. Most critics complained about this as well, but the lyrics come off as straightforward in a lot of tracks. ‘Reassemble’ is a well written song about addiction and serves among the best Bad Vibrations
has to offer. “The surf’s against us, are we able" Forgive our faults when they’re shameful. Let’s be honest with ourselves,” is a personal ending to the track that washes over the listener with a calming atmosphere and clean guitar. McKinnon recounts how the ‘lost-at-sea’ mentality was the influence for this song. Tracks like ‘Naivety,’ ‘We Got This,’ and ‘Same About You’ don’t follow the same format. The lyrics are sung in an obvious manner and don’t leave much to interpretation.
McKinnon isn’t the greatest writer in the world, but he does well for the most part. Compared to anyone else in these genres, he’s among the better half. Overall, the album was a step in the right direction. A Day to Remember found their groove and incorporated a lot of experimentation. The sound is a lot more focused and provides a lot for new and old listeners to invest in. Bad Vibrations
offers a promising future for the act and surely ranks among their better albums.
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