The Sums haven't released an album since 2007 but it seems the extended gap between Underclass Hero (UH) and Screaming Bloody Murder gave Deryck and co. a chance to create something a little more sophisticated.
The sound is heavier than UH for the most part, but with a little more melody than chuck. The album has an eb and flow to it which makes the music flow as a whole, not just sound like 14 tracks put into an preferred order.
Starting with 'Reason To Believe' which builds into a more old-school Sum 41 track, but with a soft, piano-driven intro and bridge (also very enchanting as an acoustic bonus track) it gives an immediate impression of the album as a whole. Heavy, catchy but not one-dimensional.
'Screaming Bloody Murder' has a floaty intro and outro from Deryck, which briefly sandwich a high-tempo, angry burst of a song, like a call to arms, with an intense and rapid guitar solo. However, it probably isn't catchy enough to justify being first single though.
'Skumf*k' starts again with a slow, piano-based tune, before erupting into a fast punk song. The verses sound like something off Chuck, the verses more like UH.
'Time For You To Go' introduces a new, sound, not just to the album, but to Sum 41 as a band. Much more indie and pop-orientated. Very catchy, and upbeat in tempo. Riff-driven, with a guitar solo in the bridge which could be off an Operation-MD LP.
'Jessica Kill' is an absolute album highlight. The first song not to really show any drop in intensity throughout, with explicit talk of lusting after someone, it demonstrates the band's innate ability to build a catchy song out of something heavy, loud and fast. My favourite track.
'What Am I To Say' is a slower, more sentimental song, a little like 'Pieces' but not quite as poignniant. Still, a nice change of pace and avoids sounding like album-filler.
'Holy Image Of Lies' starts what is meant to be 3 songs in one. It builds with Deryck Deryck and the guiters starting quietly before it's all turned up to 11 andDeryck starts screaming in an emotional chorus, as is quite common, the song then unpredictably drops into almost whispers again before a metal riff and loud drumming dominate the bridge. The song ends with a slow, heavy anthemic, few lines which roll straight into...
'Sick Of Everyone' which has strong, quick instrumental opening. The chorus is again, heavy yet catchy like 'Jessica Kill'. Sounds like it could have been on Chuck. Deryck's ability to drift between shouting and singng seamlessly is utilised more on SBM, and works brilliantly.
'Happiness Machines' is a newer sound for the band, the chorus is not too unusual, with a mid-tempo, kinda catchy melody. The verses are quite slow and grungey. The bridge starts with a metal riff and builds back into a the chorus, a clever way to keep the song fresh.
'Crash' is the most tender moment on the album. But is does not detract from the album's intensity. Most probably written about the end of Deryck's relationship with Avril Lavigne, it is slow, piano-driven and gentle. It is transitions from heavy moments in the album to softer stuff like 'Crash' which make this album so much more interesting as a listen, since the switch in tempo never comes across as contrived, like it did a little in UH (for example, 'Ma Poubelle'). The lyrics are mature and heart-felt. A very sad song, but beautifully written.
'Blood In My Eyes' again amps up the ferocity with another album highlight. Starting slowly with a single guitar line, the song then starts to chug along with another superb riff, reminiscent of Chuck, the verses flow between soft and hard, the chorus is catchy and very easy to sing along to, though not showing the pop-influence of some other songs. The bridge is absolutely fantastic. Truly a new sound fr Sum 41, it is sporadic, bass driven and totally unnecessary, but it is moments like that which keep you on your toes as a listener, culminating with a riff tailor-made for headbanging.
'Baby You Don't Wanna Know' returns to the indie sound of 'Time For You To Go'. Another catchy riff, upbeat tempo and some background guitars which could be off an Oasis album. Unexpectedly, it works. Just enough energy and distortion to sound like The Sums and offering a little more diversity to the album.
'Back Where I Belong' is heavy, fast and sounds like it could be something off Does This Look Infected. Not particularly catchy but a good angry song, with the almost obligatory drop to a slow quiet section swiftly followed by some heavy guitars and another chorus.
'Exit Song' is an outro really. The lyrics are poigniant and somber. Acoutically-driven and a little dreamy. It sums up the topics running throughout the album of romantic-decay, reminiscing and meloncholy.
The album works fantastically well and never really drops in intensity, while most songs have their own inbuilt diversity. It encapsulates Sum 41's ability to write heavy songs, full of passion and anger whilst retaining a lot of the melodic and catchy elements which made All Killer No Filler so endearing. Deryck is on top form vocally and lyrically, showing a new-found maturity and must also be commended for self-producing the album. I expected a strong return from these boys, but the album has surpassed all my expectations.
Tracks to download?
Time For You To Go
Sick Of Everyone
Blood In My Eyes