Six albums into their career it seems like A DAY TO REMEMBER are ready to change things up a bit on Bad Vibrations. As good as 2013’s Common Courtesy was, it felt like they had taken their current formula to the limit. Whilst not a total reinvention, Bad Vibrations sees them move in a much darker and for the most part heavier direction, which is impressive considering the band are about to step into arenas.
Opener Bad Vibrations sets the scene brilliantly with it’s HATEBREED style opening giving way to a pummelling breakdown. Jeremy McKinnon’s delivers each line with more anger than he ever has in the past and his lyrics are far more bleak than on previous albums. Paranoia picks up the pace delivering more aggressive hardcore but packing a huge chorus. Naivety is closer to the pop-punk moments of previous albums but has a more weathered sound to it, as Jeremy sings “What I hate about getting older, where’s my naivety” you get the impression he longs for more the more innocent times of his past. This gives way to what is easily the albums highlight. Exposed opens with a crushing riff packed with nu-metal bounce. This is the kind of song that has to become a staple of A DAY TO REMEMBER‘s live set as it is one of the heaviest songs they’ve ever written and will cause absolute chaos in larger venues.
The second half of the album moves into less heavier territory but it still has a darker feel to it. Justified slows things down a bit and We Got This provides another dose of that pop-punk sound that A DAY TO REMEMBER are so good at. Still with the exception of this and Naivety it seems like they have stripped pop-punk from their sound. There’s still plenty of melody there but things just aren’t as cheerful as they once were. Closing out the album we get possibly the most experimental song A DAY TO REMEMBER have ever released with Forgive And Forget. The use of strings really separate this from anything else they have done in the past and just adds a new layer to things. The track builds up to a brilliantly emotional climax and really demonstrates how they have developed as song writers. It’s a huge moment that seems built for arenas.
Whilst there is a lot to like about the album it does have some flaws. The album is a bit top heavy, with We Got This and Forgive And Forget being the only standouts in the second half whilst the first half of rammed with great songs. It also feels like this is just the beginning of a new sound for the band and it seems like we won’t hear the best of it until the next album. In terms of performances every member is as solid as always but Jeremy McKinnon delivers some of his best work ever especially in terms of lyrics. And it goes without saying that A DAY TO REMEMBER still know how to deliver a brilliant breakdown and “No War, No Peace” on Exposed is the album’s best mosh call.
Overall Bad Vibrations is another strong album from A DAY TO REMEMBER. It’s not their best but six albums down they still prove to be one of the most consistent bands in recent years. It’s also great to see them not follow in the steps of other bands and water things down at this stage of their career in order to appeal to a bigger audience. They might have grown up a bit but the spirit of those earlier A DAY TO REMEMBER albums remains on Bad Vibrations.
Bad Vibrations is out now via ADTR Records.
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