Music: It Adds Up: The Life and Times of Sum 41

Few bands can claim to be consistently good. After 15 years of punk-rocking Sum 41 are at the top of their game, having just released fifth studio album Screaming Bloody Murder.

Who’d have thought the group responsible for pop-punk anthem In Too Deep with it’s random video, complete with guitar solo rising from a swimming pool, would go on to become heavyweights of the genre.

While Green Day sold out and Offspring fell from grace (obscure pun intended), the Sum 41 crew have held firm, trying new things with every album.

Their beginnings with the likes of Fat Lip and In Too Deep on All Killer No Filler are pure pop-punk, but with follow up Does This Look Infected? their heavier side began to show with Over My Head and Thanks For Nothing.

By the time Chuck rolled around there were tracks verging on metal with some screamo influences filtering through as well in tracks like The Bitter End and We’re All to Blame, but the band never lost their catchy-pop-ness, epitomised by Pieces and Some Say.

Once Chuck was done the most significant change in the band’s history occurred: the departure of Dave Baksh. Long-time lead guitarist and vocalist, Baksh drove the metal influence for Chuck and left citing ‘musical differences’ to continue his more metal-esque side project Brownsound.

Next album Underclass Hero marked a ‘return to roots’ move for the band, functioning as effectively a three piece, only using a tour guitarist as a filler. The leadership of leading man Deryck Whibley managed to keep the bands momentum going and produced a fantastic album, and the band’s most commercially successful to date. Tracks like Pull The Curtain and the title track bristle with enthusiasm and passion of a band starting anew.

After a relentless touring schedule, a habit of the band, they began work on their current album, eventually titled Screaming Bloody Murder. The most obvious change is a departure from the gritty punk look of Underclass Hero to a more gothic look for the band from the front cover, but fitting since the album brings in new influences from new lead guitarist Tom Thacker in the form of a more traditional rock album.

Immediately as the Terminator theme sounding intro to album opener Reason to Believe rings out, you get the sense this a very different album to anything the band have done before. In fact though, perhaps after a few listens, you realise that this album is the sum (ahem) of their previous work, with everything in perfect balance. There are catchy choruses (Sick of Everyone), blistering guitar solos (Screaming Bloody Murder), ballads (Crash) – featuring Deryck at his most melodic – and good old fashioned punk attitude (Skumfuk).

To say that Sum 41 have never sounded better might sound like an exaggeration, but put it this way; with the wealth of material they’ve got under their belts now, there’s never been a better time to check out their tour schedule.

 

James Michael Parry

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