Sum 41 are back with a slightly tweaked yet rejuvenated line-up, and a hard-hitting album. With a maturing sound, and Deryck Whibley’s recent health issues serving as the lyrical spine, there’s a very apparent recurring theme of death throughout the ten tracks that make up ‘13 Voices’.
Their statement of intent is clear from album opener ‘A Murder of Crows (You’re All Dead To Me)’, a stadium-ready, chorus-driven alt-rock anthem. This contrasts nicely with ‘Goddamn I’m Dead Again’ which has a sound more familiar to old school Sum 41 fans. It launches itself at a Bad Religion-like pace, laced with great harmonies and a killer not-so-tongue-in-cheek classic-rock guitar solo, courtesy of the returning Dave Baksh. Lead off single, ‘Fake My Own Death’ stands clear as a highlight of the album along with the likes of ‘God Save Us All’ and the title track 13 Voices as they are the epitomy of Sum 41’s new dircetion.
The album dips into more serious territory with the emotionally driven trio of ‘War’, ‘Twisted By Design’ and ‘Breaking The Chain’. Although they wallow in their earnest lyrics, they still manage to have a tendency to be engaging through the band’s anthemic rock approach. It’s a trait the band havn’t lost.
Overall ’13 Voices’ is a powerful record as Sum 41 successfully deliver angst-spilled lyrics over a new rock-driven sound with massive anthemic choruses, but with their feet still firmly stomping in their punk roots.
It could be easy to fault the album on first listen. However, it’s just a case of adjusting to a new Sum 41. Those wanting something no frills and fun along the lines of their earlier work or as serious as ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’, this isn’t it. It could be considered that ’13 Voices’ is a matured take on 2004’s ‘Chuck’, highlighting a range of weighty subjects yet sees the band re-embrace their playful side.
’13 Voices’ by Sum 41 is released on October 7th on Hopeless Records.
Words by Tom Drakett (@tomdrakett)