A Day to Remember has been a personal favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. They’ve evolved and matured yet stayed true to their heavy pop-punk/post-hardcore roots, and deserve all the attention they get. By far the best thing about the Ocala, FL five-piece is their breakdowns. Usually, they start off with a one-liner that give you the urge to punch a wall, then they slam you in ways you didn’t know you could be slammed.
Right now, I’m going to rate all of their breakdowns on a scale of 1-10, along with repeating the badass lyric that goes along with it. The scaling will be based off how unique the breakdown is, how heavy it goes, and of course, how goosebump-inducing the breakdown’s call-out is.
Let’s break it down, album by album.
And Their Name Was Treason
“You’re such a liar, tell me the truth.” 8/10
Cut-throat, delivery is very blunt. Menacing way to start their career.
A Second Glance
‘Cause I try so hard to make this right” / “You’ve got my back on the wall!” / “After all you’ve put me through, my friends still stay true” / “Your reign is over, why couldn’t you prove me wrong?” 6/10
This breakdown is emotionally raw, and the tone of the song is changed drastically, using this as the turning point.
Casablanca Sucked Anyway
“When will you find your place in this world / ‘Cause it will never be beside me again!” 9/10
This breakdown turns helps the song graduate from good to great, and gives it the exact topping it needs to be a delicious dessert.
For Those Who Have Heart
Speak of the Devil
“Let this be your reminder / I’m everything that you wanted to be / Hope for the best, but it’s over / And you thought you were better than me” 10/10
How can you hear this line and not find it hardcore. It’s a cold way to put someone in their place and keep ‘em humble if they’re running their mouth!
The Danger in Starting a Fire
“That’s the danger in starting a fire / You’ll never know how many bridges you’ll burn!” 9/10
The ending to the song, but that doesn’t mean it’s weak. Once the song ends, it leaves you with a bit of an eerie feeling; can’t quite put my finger on why it does…
The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle
“Get low!” 6/10
The song is iconic and this line hits harder live, I promise. Sufficiently keeps the crowd energized.
Colder Than My Heart if You Can Imagine
“I’m alright with being a thief” 7/10
The breakdown in this song slows the tempo down a lot which, when the instruments come back from their rest, make it packs a heavier punch.
Show Em the Ropes
“I watched the weight of your world cave in to crush you!” 11/10
Once again, this line is simply badass. The kind of breakdown that makes go “oooh wow” silently to yourself.
A Shot in the Dark
“Keep running your mouth!” 100/10
This call out is the best of them all. I have this line on a t-shirt that I acquired about 8 years ago and I never plan on getting rid of it. Go ahead, keep talking, I don’t care.
Here’s to the Past
“This man will stand the test of time” 6/10
This line starts out as a soft emotionally charged part of the song and gradually gets heavy and turns into a sorrow-filled scream. Really drives the point home.
I Heard It’s the Softest Thing Ever
“I was just another promise that you couldn’t keep” 9/10
A deep metaphor that precedes a slow and deadly bomb of sound that touches the hearts of any one who’s been ditched or have felt betrayed. The lyric sounds as if McKinnon is hurt and is shouting out in anger and in sadness. Truly a beautiful concoction of emotion.
Why Walk On Water When We’ve Got Boats?
“You live your life in the saddest way I’ve ever seen, You are the reason I don’t believe” 8/10
This song is basically about his disagreement with religion as whole, and the line before the breakdown sends the powerful message.
My Life for Hire
“Watch your back, you’ll lose yourself / This is a battleground!” 8/10
Here the line seems like it’s telling someone to watch themselves or they’ll end up in a situation they won’t like. A very upfront ‘step back’ attitude.
Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End
“Wake up!” 8/10
Simple yet sufficient way to start off a song.
“Disrespect your surroundings!” 15/10
Is there anything better to shout to get a mosh pit going at an adrenaline-fueled metal show? No! I fully expect everyone to tear up their environment and cause absolute chaos. The mid-breakdown line of “you won’t make it out alive!” just adds to this destructive insanity.
Welcome to the Family
“We draw the line at / Being in your life / Here’s to the man of the hour, we’ll cast out problems aside / Cheers to your future, may they bury you alive!” 10/10
Its hard to imagine that a breakdown featuring Vincent Bennett of the hard-as-hell band ‘The Acacia Strain’ would do poorly. The line has a tempo change directly in the middle of its delivery with McKinnon and Bennett switching off lyrics, then it’s slowly comes in to crush you.
Holdin’ it Down for the Underground
“I have the greatest faith in fools/ I turned my back and out came the wolves / pay attention!” 8/10
To me, the line sounds like he’s been let down by people he’s trusted with his life, and ‘out came the wolves’ is the moment he was let down. A serious reminder to pay attention to who you associate with and how.
You Already Know What You Are
“Clenched fists held above me / You will never bring me to my knees, I said…” 7/10
Nothing can stop me, anything can try. A positive attitude to heavily close out the album with a lyric that should be every listener’s mantra; I guarantee this can get you through the toughest times.
What Separates Me From You
Sticks and Bricks
“If you can’t stand the pressure / Stay the f*ck out of my way, I know my place / This one goes out to everyone who’s lied to my face / My heart is filled with hate” 11/10
McKinnon in this song is on a full-on rampage and in my personal opinion is a great song to act as a big middle finger to anyone who’s betrayed you. This breakdown call out means business.
“I just can’t believe it’s really come to this / Because without me, you would not exist!” 15/10
2nd Sucks has a backstory involving another band that seeks out competition with ADTR, even though ADTR wants to keep their musical relationship friendly and healthy. After a little bit of beef with the other band, ADTR puts out this line to make sure they remember where they came from and who really got them in the spotlight.
You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic
“All the things you love are all the things I hate / How did we get here in the first place? Oh!” 9/10
To most listeners, this song portrays the feelings of someone looking back at a relationship gone sour and wondering where it all went wrong. The delivery of this line really captures the pure emotion and regret felt by the narrator.
Right Back at it Again
“We’re coming out swinging!” 4/10
This 4/10 isn’t necessarily a bad rating, it’s just the musical piece following the line isn’t necessarily a breakdown, more like a heavy groove. Either way it’s great to hear in a mosh pit.
Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail
Simple call out, but it really starts the drive to what is a very fast breakdown to start off the song.
Dead & Buried
“I can’t fight it, I can’t fight it, I can’t fight it, I’ve slipped through the cracks” 8/10
This breakdown line comes out as an agony-riddled, self-deprecating call out of one’s inability to fight whatever they’re fighting and succumbing to the failure. Very emotional and the heavy-hitting music that it fades into sounds like everything around you is breaking. I’m pretty sure they busted an amp while recording this.
Violence (Enough is Enough)
“You only get one chance and that’s one too much, What’s the world gonna say when I call your bluff, punk? / Bow your head!” 50/10
As if the singer is taking to a person they’ve been feuding with (possibly Victory Records), the breakdown call out is exactly that: a call out. Saying he’s going to call out their bluff, phew, if I were them I’d keep quite. Also that ‘bow your’ head is immaculate. Kudos to them.
Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way
“You’ve earned my disgust” 7/10
The song is about wearing the blame, in essence, and this line embodies how people feel toward you when you’re guilty of something heinous: disgust.
The Document Speaks for Itself
“No f*cking respect!” 13/10
If you don’t know already, ADTR had some legal issues with their label, Victory Records, and basically had tons of resentment towards the people making their lives he’ll at this time. This song is where all the hatred and frustration comes to a head and they let it all out with this breakdown line.
“Don’t forget that this is a choice / Pick your poison / Live with remorse” 9/10
This line sets off the whole album and is an amazing intro to this era of ADTR.
This part of the song is just pure evil. McKinnon’s vocal style, the eerie guitar in the back, you really feel the hatred.
“Like a shark that’s combing the surface / We got a taste for blood / Don’t believe what the pacifist tells you / No war, no peace” 8/10
The breakdown in this song is so menacing and eerie. The instruments hit, leaving an echo of that sound in the opposite earbud listening to; as if lightning strikes just feet away while you hear the echo travel away from you into the darkness surrounding you.
“Til the hammer drops!” 11/10
This song has an actual hammer sound in the breakdown.
“Pessimism is a killer” 6.5/10
It’s a light breakdown compared to what we’re used to from the band, but it fits the song well. It’s still very awesome however.
“Welcome to the eye of the tiger!” 7/10
Pretty much, ‘you just got yourself into some serious sh*t.’ That’s what this breakdown says to me. Then they pounce on you and mangle you with that crazy breakdown.
A Day to Remember is set to release the remainder of their new album ‘You’re Welcome’ in March 2021, which I am sure will have some more killer breakdowns. ADTR never fail to please when they put out an album, so keep this release on your radar. In the meantime, go check out these songs to stay in tune with what they’ve been doing this past 17 years.
-Luke Brooks \m/