Music Review: Sum 41

Sum 41 returned on March 29 with their fifth studio album Screaming Bloody Murder, which is essentially the first four albums put into one. They’ve completely abandoned the late ’90s sound from Half Hour of Power. What remains is a healthy mix of the powerful speed of All Killer No Filler, the straight-forward punk-rock style of Does This Look Infected?, and the slightly angrier lyrical tones of Chuck, wound together with some of the slow songs which made their debut for the band in Underclass Hero.It seems that the band was well aware of exactly everything that worked from each one of the previous albums, because they’ve masterfully mixed and matched all the good elements into a beautiful collection of songs. Deryck Whibley has found a singing voice completely separate from his usual raspy yelling, and it’s surprisingly good. It all really shows the band’s musical maturity, which is somewhat contradictory to the lyrical themes found in Bloody Murder.

The lyrics have certainly matured past the point of songs like “March of the Dogs,” but that’s not saying much. The band still has a while to go when it comes to writing. This album has the traditional juvenile themes, ranging from masochism to being sick of everyone (in exactly those words). They also dabble more in religious questioning, which is interesting to see from a band that never cared much about things like that in the past.

The only thing that occasionally bothers me about Sum 41’s musical style is their tendency to turn what could be two or three songs into one. “Skumfuk” is a perfect example of this. It was leaked a solid four months ago as a fast punk song, barely touching the two minute mark. The way it appears on the album is with a 1:25 slow intro, which sounds like a completely different song. Things like this happen on numerous occasions, and it almost reminds me of a modern “Band on the Run” style.

Aside from those two small complaints, Screaming Bloody Murder is everything I loved about Sum 41’s previous works in one album. Some hardcore fans may be disappointed by the slower songs and the fact Whibley has taken more to singing than yelling, but they can take comfort in songs like “Jessica Kills.” There’s a lot to love in these 45 minutes of music, and I hope this isn’t the band’s last effort. They’ve reached the point of a stable, balanced sound, and if bands like The Offspring are any indication, we should have a few more fantastic albums to look forward to.

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