Review: A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations
A Day To Remember
ADTR Records / Epitaph
A great man once said, “Great art does not come from a position of comfort.” Actually, that’s a lie, but let’s pretend it’s an actual quote, just for a minute. There are likely exceptions to this rule, but it seems as though the more comfortable an artist or band is, the more their work suffers as a consequence. The early part of A Day To Remember’s career was fueled by ambition, youthful exuberance, and good ol’ fashioned existential angst – all of which contributed to a string of widely lauded albums, from …And Their Name Was Treason, all the way up to What Separates Me From You.
Since then, ADTR seem to have worked their way into a position of relative comfort, having put contractual disputes and general label fuckery behind them. Instead of this resulting in a stellar album – we’ve already had that in the form of Common Courtesy, a direct response to their messy split from Victory – it has resulted in a largely uninspiring product, devoid of all of the qualities that made them a household name in the heavy music scene.
It is instantly recognisable, upon listening to Bad Vibrations, that there has been a clear directive shift in effect this time around. New producer, Bill Stevenson, has delivered a far less polished, more organic and more instrumentally driven sound, which ostensibly complements the metalcore vibe. Here’s the kicker though: ADTR aren’t a guitar band, and never really have been. They have some great riffs littered throughout their career (“A Shot In The Dark”, “Heartless”, “You Should Have Killed Me When You Had The Chance”, “Sometimes You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail”, et al.), granted, but that is not the primary function of the band, and never has been.
Compositionally, they have always geared the instrumental component towards presenting the best possible vehicle for Jeremy McKinnon’s distinctive – and much adored – vocal style and lyricism. They aren’t known for their variation, by and large, and there’s a very good reason for that. In short, they are damn good at what they do, and write accordingly.
And herein lies the problem: they have traded in vocal hooks for fairly humdrum riffs, and the whole record suffers as a consequence. “Paranoia”, “Bullfight” and “Turn Off The Radio” aside, there is precious little in the way of memorability, and even then, “Paranoia” is far too close to Stick To Your Guns’ “What Choice Did You Give Us” for comfort. It is somewhat fitting that “Naivety” is a fairly clear homage to Sum 41’s Does This Look Infected? era, when this entire album could be accurately described as “all filler, no killer.”
To sum it up, this is a really disappointing record. ADTR have often been criticised for their lack of substance riff-wise, and yet somehow, the audience will have every right to feel shortchanged by Bad Vibrations. It just goes to show that you should be careful what you wish for. Indeed, sometimes you might just get it.
A Day To Remember / Of Mice & Men / Tonight Alive
Saturday December 10th – Red Hill Auditorium, Perth (AA)
Tuesday December 13th – AEC Theatre, Adelaide (AA)
Wednesday December 14th – Festival Hall, Melbourne (AA)
Friday December 16th – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (AA)
Sunday December 18th – Riverstage, Brisbane (AA)