It’s 2016, Sum 41 have not written an album since Screaming Bloody Murder in 2011. Lead singer, Deryck Whibley managed to recover from liver and kidney failure. Original drummer and long term friend and band member, Steve Jocz has parted ways with the band. Dave “Brownsound” Baksh has returned after leaving the band in 2006.
Sum 41 is now a 5-piece for the first time since formation in 1996, consisting of Deryck Whibley (vocals/rhythm guitarist), Dave Baksh (lead guitarist), Tom Thacker (lead guitarist number 2), Jason “Cone” McCaslin (bass) and new drummer, Frank Zummo. And would you believe that after all these lineup changes and life altering events, Sum 41 can and has produced a really solid album.
‘A Murder Of Crows (You’re All Dead To Me)’ is the intro to the album. It has a slow pace which builds to violins and a progressive drum beat comparable to the intro of a suspenseful film. There’s a mystery throughout this introduction to what direction Sum 41 are going to take and how will this new Sum 41 in 2016 sound? The whole song has a slow tempo and mainly sets up the next song.
‘Goddamn I’m Dead Again’ kicks off into a guitar and vocal combination that is straight away reminiscent of Chuck. The first half of the song has everything you expect from a Sum 41 song, a catchy verse, fast paced chorus, heavy punk guitars in the intro and a mini guitar solo to split up verses. As you think it comes to the end of the song there’s a three-second pause. This then goes into a massive face melting Metallica-esque duelling guitar solo. But wait there’s more, this solo lasts for over one minute featuring high pitched partnered harmonies presumably by Baksh and Thacker. The last minute of this song is experimental, completely different and f#$king amazing. Perhaps the best song on the album for that second half alone.
‘Fake My Own Death’ was a great choice for first single. It has just enough experimentation to tease fans with the new Sum 41, but is still nostalgic and relatable enough to not worry anyone.
‘Breaking The Chain’ should have been the second single instead of ‘War’. It’s a slow paced soft song, which makes use and fully introduces violins to the Sum 41 sound. It has a catchy, easy chorus that is eerily familiar to Screaming Bloody Murder, so much so, the first half sounds like a song that didn’t make the cut for the album. However, the second half sounds like the band got together and remixed it with the new Sum 41 style. It eventually picks up into another high pitched melodic riff that fades out back into the minimalist, soft verse. Only to go into one final chorus that is heavier and progressively more impactful than the choruses before. The final twenty seconds are joined by a guitar that has a Linkin Park epic feel to it, these small pieces are easily the standout of the album and are such a tiny adjustment that make a gigantic impact.
‘There Will Be Blood’ screams Underclass Hero immediately. It has a hauntingly themed verse that is accompanied by eerie ‘la la las’ which goes into a chorus shouting “we’ll take the souls of the littles ones, and that might be you!” It sounds familiar and seems to be a nod to ‘The Jester’ on Underclass Hero. This song seems to give a Halloween theme and a sinister sound, which works really well and is a fun foot tapping song.
‘13 Voices’ is another song with a slow progressive instrumental build that moves into one of the biggest and best riffs of the album. This pace slows back down to Deryck’s verse that sounds similar to the previous title track ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’ from the last album. The vocals use a carnival/circus effect similar to how one would imagine a man shouting into a megaphone saying “ladies and gentleman step right up”. The chorus is catchy and a classic Sum 41, however, the real standout is the first instrumental minute.
‘War’, why did they use this song as the second single? Perhaps because it’s a bit more radio friendly? Regardless, it’s a good song with an amazing guitar riff that gives more Linkin Park vibes. This song follows the progressive pattern of the album and once again builds to the last minute of the song that is full of new guitar sounds and a generic pleasure inducing riff. Compared to the rest of the album and previous soft Sum 41 songs this isn’t a standout.
‘God Save Us All (Death To POP)’ has a distinctive sound compared to the rest of the album. It sounds like Sum 41 but can’t be pinpointed to a previous album. Deryck’s vocals in the chorus are accompanied by another nu metal lead guitar riff. Another instrumental highlight is the chunky metal bridge out of the half-way point’s chorus. There’s something about these guitar tones within the album that add such a new influence to the album that somehow gives a nostalgic sound from the mid-2000’s from different bands, yet is new and modernised within Sum 41.
‘The Fall And The Rise’ gives a throwback to early Sum 41 with Deryck rapping in the verses. It’s nice to hear such an old school influence from the band being morphed into their modern day sound. The song continues with a chorus that is unfortunately not rapped, but continues with this epic and monumental tone with vocals and guitar.
‘Twisted By Design’ is the final song/outro to the album. It starts off slow and as always with Deryck it has lyrical depth and emotion. This slowly blossoms into an emotionally heavy chorus with the hauntingly relevant lyrics, “They say the fire in your heart is gone, but I say it’s really only just begun, and all alone you know that I’m, twisted by design.” This seems to be Deryck’s most emotional and personal song heard in a long time. It’s a beautiful song to end the album on and if Sum 41 never wrote another album, it would be a perfect end.
Sum 41’s new album, 13 Voices is a hybrid version of Chuck, Underclass Hero and Screaming Bloody Murder. For fans who wanted All Killer No Filler 2.0, this album isn’t for you. The band has taken Screaming Bloody Murder and polished out the imperfections and used nostalgic influences to add that familiar Sum 41 stamp to create something new. The guitar work is new and experimental. The band has benefited from having their self-proclaimed two lead guitarists, Baksh and Thacker, leaving Deryck to focus on the rhythm. The band has matured and brought a new element to their sound with this now 5-piece band. It may not be their best album ever, but it may go down as, Chuck 2.0.
Highlights: Goddamn I’m Dead Again, Twisted By Design, There Will Be Blood, 13 Voices.