Review Summary: A lifeless shadow of what they once were
Sum 41 have ridden the surf of frontline pop-punk for little over a decade now, leaving a respectable discography in their wake. Whilst their albums may lack that vital, memorable quality needed to produce a classic, it’s impossible to deny the fun that’s been had. From the youthful bounce of ‘Fat Lip’ to the dramatic metal shenanigans of ‘88’, Sum 41 were always the band most likely to coax people onto the dance-floor and pogo like there’s no tomorrow. Who cares if they were more about songs than albums? They always had the good sense to avoid prog, so it didn’t matter. Unfortunately, Underclass Hero
was noticeably light on standout tracks, rendering it almost as weak as their debut. And there was just a hint
of old-age creeping into the formula, a feeling of grown men playing teenage songs. It was obvious that the band had reached a pivotal moment of their career, with everything riding on their ability to adapt. Screaming Bloody Murder
feels somewhat tragic, then, because Sum 41 have just gone through the motions and put out a collage of recycled ideas – one horribly tempered with the juvenile lyrics of old. This failure to evolve leaves them dead in the water from the start, making a long album seem embarrassingly drawn out. It might not be a catastrophe, but it’s close.
The most glaring issue in this new record is a distinct lack of fun. They’re in their thirties, granted, but the seriousness here reeks of a desire to mix the eyeliner-gloom of (recent) My Chemical Romance with the earthiness of Rise Against. It doesn’t take long to realise that the band are capable of neither, as ‘Reason to Believe’ brings the record weakly to life with a blustery, forgettable chorus and some dull crooning from Deryck Whibley. Few songs shine amongst the dreary collection, with ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’, ‘Skumfuk’ and ‘Blood in My Eyes’ providing the most worthwhile material, as they muster up the spectre of Sum 41 in their prime, decent hooks breathing life into each track. Sadly, even these feel too familiar, with every melody reminding you of better songs. And the rest of Screaming Bloody Murder
isn’t so lucky. Whibley just does not have the vocal presence to carry the frequent attempts at balladry on this album, robbing ‘Crash’ of its full potential and hanging a weight around the neck of ‘Holy Images of Lies.’ The production is crystal clear throughout, making the guitars and rhythm section sound almost powerful, but the thin veneer can’t hide the fact that, beneath it all, Sum 41 have finally been swept away.