2009 was a landmark year for me when it came to music. Releases from Every Time I Die and The Black Dahlia Murder were the soundtrack to my first experience of living on my own and, slotted somewhere between the two, Homesick by A Day To Remember became a “guilty pleasure.” The dyed-in-the-wool metalhead in me was conflicted. Torn even. I knew that the pop driven choruses and “she left me, boo hoo” lyrics were something I should have already gotten past but the songs were just too catchy to ignore. What business did a pop punk band have dropping savage, infectious breakdowns all over their material? Why do I still listen to this band, unironically? Because A Day To Remember are metal as fuck and I’ll fight you after class on the football field if you disagree.
Brushing over the band’s first two full releases would be a crime as they are rammed full of delightfully ignorant pop metal. And Their Name Was Treason showed the band in their pre-formative years bashing headlong into slapping pop punk on top of early 2000’s metalcore. This came at a cost with most of the transitions being jarring and predictable, but still decadent and incredibly fun. The Eighteen Visions (but better) styled “1958” breaks out the hardcore stomps and pop punk structure but eschews the former for more chirpy, adolescent musings. “Casablanca Sucked Anyways“, while one of the band’s most on point song titles, was all over the place. Metallic and melodic and most excellent; a perfect example of the sound that these Floridians would go on to monopolize.
2007’s For Those Who Have Heart was the bridge between the frantic mashing of styles and Homesick; unarguably the band’s breakthrough record. Focusing more on structuring tracks to avoid the jarring shifts between genres, A Day To Remember would start their push towards pop metal dominance on this one. A reworking of “Heartless,” just one track that hits harder than your first break up, this record had some seriously catchy metal moments. The riffs in “The Danger In Starting A Fire” still hold up to this day. Look back at nearly every other metalcore act at the time and they all started to sound a bit too much like At The Gates. None the less, the defining moment for this band would still be to come.
“Duh duh duh duh duh, duh. Duh duh duh duh, duh. Duh duh duh duh duh, duh, duh, duh duh. LET’S GO”
You know exactly what track that is and fuck you if you even pretend like you don’t. The catchiest track of the year opened Homesick with two fists in the air. Now benefiting from production that emphasized the distinction between hardcore and pop, A Day To Remember seemed to have hit gleaming gold. Charged up anthems like “I’m Made Of Wax, Larry…” and “Mr Highway’s Thinking About The End” would bring to the foreground an In Flames style of riff that would take over from the Orange County vibe that predated it. Even with the inclusion of the now ever present acoustic number (still a better track than your band are capable of), the heavy as hell moments on Homesick are undeniably infectious. Gang vocals and vocal harmonies don’t belong together anywhere else but on one of these records. Defining a sound and creating a unique brand at the same time put A Day To Remember on every map.
The next couple of albums are great too. Don’t get me wrong; anyone who has to endure my company at work will have heard them both a couple of hundred times already this year. They just didn’t quite shift enough for me. A more radio based approach might be to blame but even then there is a whole record worth of bangers between the two. “Violence (Enough Is Enough)” and “Sticks & Bricks” are heavier than any In Flames track from the last five years, easily. The radio tracks got over played though and they grind a bit now. That will happen when you’re one of the fastest growing bands in alternative music. Seriously, look at their list of tours and shows; A Day To Remember have played with everyone. Their video for “All I Want” is a who’s who of their band buddies and has everyone from The Acacia Strain and Parkway Drive to a bunch of awful Hot Topic bands that I won’t admit to knowing the members of. Proof…
Fast forward. It’s 2016. A Day To Remember announce a huge UK arena tour. One that I will attend. Then they release Bad Vibrations and I’m 19 again hearing the band for the first time. The In Flames riffing is back but is now shoulder to shoulder with some (UK) tech metal chugging too. There’s even some moodier, dare I say “darker” tracks too; “Bullfight” burns slow, complete with a filtered bass heavy beatdown finale. The transitions between pop punk and metalcore are fewer and further apart, instead the band have their pop punk track “Naivety” and their metal monster too (“Bad Vibrations“). Personal favourites “Justified” and “Turn Off The Radio” are two tracks that could only be A Day To Remember. Anyone attempting this sound is always going to sound like a rip off of this band from now on. That’s a given. I’m sure there are a hundred bands trying it right now too. They just all suck.
Nearly a thousand words later and all I’ve done is wax lyrical about why this pop metal monster is such a big part of my listening habits. This far in, any naysayer will have already hit back and looked for some prog or death. That’s cool. We can’t all have fun. I get it. “All I Want” is for just one or two people aware of the band to give them more of a chance than “oh, that’s the pop song covering Victory band”. That kind of attitude stinks and is akin to everyone shitting on any band that have carved out a huge market for themselves. Suck it up, put their discography on shuffle and try not to smile at the pleasing nature of this pop punk/hardcore/metalcore/ADTRcore band. Or don’t. I don’t really care. This was for me and all my fellow broken hearts out there.
That was awful. I apologize.