Written by Sahr Gbamoi
Sum 41 released their newest album, 13 Voices, earlier this week but do any belong to them?
While those who haven’t checked in on the band in the past five years may find them somewhat unrecognisable from the Pop Punk sound that made them popular, up to date fans will find this album to be equally as heavy as 2011’s Screaming Bloody Murder. However, this album has notably fewer contrasting calmer moments, instead opting for simply more up tempo with its vibrant sound. Songs like Goddamn I’m Dead Again sound closer to Thrash Metal; the solo section wouldn’t feel out of place on an early Metallica album.
One could argue that the titling of the album is highly fitting, as it offers a sound for a range of Metal fans. Breaking the Chain is reminiscent of older Linkin Park, with its softer vocals and guitar in the verse building up into a distortion heavy chorus (with lyrics like “all the chains I break it brings me one step closer” feeling like Deryck Whibley making a citation), where There Will Be Blood is comparable to the theatrical sound of Avenged Sevenfold.
Naturally, the question that arises from this is the question of whether or not this similarity is a problem. In a world of easily accessible music, it’s inevitable that many bands will influence each other, but naturally a fan becomes a fan for the unique elements offered by a given band. Perhaps the follow up question would revolve around whether Sum 41 ever truly did stand out. I feel one would struggle to argue that hits like Fat Lip couldn’t have appeared on a Good Charlotte album, for example. Regardless, whatever sound the band have ventured into, they have been able to pull it off with a level of acceptable efficiency at the very least; this album is further confirmation of that.
The album takes time to cool down by the seventh track, ironically titled War, where even the drums soften to allow the listener to recover from head banging before building back up towards the end of the album. The placement of these final four tracks can be seen as analogous to the crescendo of war, from “I’m ready to settle the score, get ready” to the last heavy hits in Twisted by Design, a potential sing-along anthem that will most likely spawn some tasteful YouTube covers.
The final verse begins with “In some ways I’ve changed and I’ve left it all behind”; quite a fitting indictment of the gap between 2001 and 2016. They have certainly evolved, as all bands must in order to avoid being stale, but they have sustained some continuity in some ways, such as Deryck’s unchanged vocal style and drum tracks that continue to boast power and consistency over finesse.
Overall, the energy packed into the songs makes the album attractive enough to give a listen, but this energy is not enough to make 13 Voices a notable or truly memorable album. Although it could be seen as cynical to call it a jobs worth’s rock album, there’s little evidence present to argue that there is much more than that in this thirty-seven minute offering.
Check out the band’s video for War below.
Credit: Hopeless Records