By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
Every genre of music, ranging from rock to EDM, country to hip-hop, has their own respective artists that are considered the “pinnacle” of that genre. These artists set the bar for younger and aspiring artists and are forever influential to that style of music. Like Britney Spears to pop or Snoop Dogg to rap, such are Floridan rock band A Day to Remember (ADTR).
For more than 13 years, the band has continually pushed out releases that have caused them to skyrocket to being one of the largest names in the scene. The group has always managed to stand out among others with their ability to seamlessly blur the lines between heavy metal and pop.
Last week, the quintet dropped their sixth studio album, “Bad Vibrations.” Leading up to its release, vocalist Jeremy McKinnon said in an interview that the record would be heavier than their past three records combined. Does “Bad Vibrations” live up to McKinnon’s claims and the anticipation of their gargantuan fanbase? It most certainly does.
Much like the ADTR records of the past, there is always a healthy dose of diversity in the songwriting and tracklisting. The band itself has never been keen on writing overly-complicated compositions. Instead, they merely focus on the “fun” aspect of the music, seeking to write material that will invoke an invigorating live atmosphere at their shows. With this in mind, there are the glossy, boy-band tinged choruses that make a good deal of their songs radio-friendly and accessible to the masses. However, there are always the heavy moments that the band pull-off so exquisitely. Once listeners press play, it will become clear that McKinnon was right. The album’s opening title track comes in powerful, littered with guitar feedback and McKinnon’s raw screams. “I can feel your bad vibrations,” he belts out over the downtuned onslaught courtesy of respective lead and rhythm guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall. This track alone proves that ADTR are not afraid to show some grit.
Lead single “Paranoia,” released earlier this year, is tinged with hardcore-esque riffs and shouts that nod in favor to bands such as Beartooth and Stick To Your Guns. The bombastic choruses are huge enough to induce an entire arena to chant along and will be stuck in millions of people’s heads for the long run.
The group continues on throughout the record to push out some of the heaviest material of their discography. “Exposed” is arguably in the running for the title of their heaviest breakdown, with sections reminiscent of “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End” from 2009’s “Homesick.” The empowering gang-vocals and bass chugs of “Reassemble” further the album into rougher territory.
Let us not forget the melodic side of ADTR, where much of their glory lies. “Naivety” sounds positive on the surface, but beneath the Blink 182 vibes, its lyrics have a dark undertone about the horrors of getting older. McKinnon’s voice is silk against palm-muted chords and upbeats, and is equally dance-inspiring as it is depressing. “Same About You” brings up an emotional breakup and, to much surprise, leads into an intricate solo from Skaff, something their group is not well-known for. It’s both impressive and a breath of fresh air into their repertoire.
With every member inching into their 30s, many bands in this field of music would have lost their steam by now. ADTR proves with “Bad Vibrations” that age does not define what material a band can pump out. Steering clear of beating a dead horse, the band has taken their sixth album as an opportunity to embellish their heavy, metalcore roots, and also put out some of the strongest, yet lightest, material of their career. “Bad Vibrations” takes the polished aesthetic of 2013’s “Common Courtesy” and the edginess and angst of “Homesick.” Already topping Billboard charts these past years, “Bad Vibrations” is another notch in the post on ADTR’s way to music domination.