Review Summary: This is where it all began for Sum 41 - a promising sign of what was to come!
Back at the start of the new millennium, four fresh-faced teenagers from Ajax, Ontario embarked on a career which would see them establish themselves as a forerunner in the pop-punk scene. With the release of their debut album – and I’ve always maintained it is just that; how can a release containing 11 tracks and almost a half hour of music be considered merely an EP? – Sum 41 showed promising glimpses of what was to come.
First and foremost, the album showcases Sum 41’s enjoyable brand of pop-punk. Palm-muted power chord verses and catchy choruses are to be found in abundance, and fast-paced tracks like Machine Gun and Makes No Difference encapsulate the band’s contagious youthful energy. Standout moments include the epic ringing chords at the start of Summer, which also boasts a classic “whoa” sing-along in the chorus, and the build-up transition in two-for-one effort Dave’s Possessed Hair/It’s What We’re All About, which is well executed with the palm-muted/open chord trade off building up momentum effectively.
Even at such an early stage of the band’s career, they showed glimpses of their potential for diversity. This is best demonstrated in Second Chance For Max Headroom – one of the best songs on the album – which features a classic metal-style harmonised guitar solo before branching out in an opposite direction to ska with an unexpected yet fun horn section and finally returning to furious palm-muted power chords in all their pop-punk glory. It sounds like a haphazard mix of conflicting influences that shouldn’t work, but it does – the song maintains its fun energy throughout. Less convincing is the band’s stray into rap territory in the latter half of Dave’s Possessed Hair/It’s What We’re All About; however, this is a minor flaw in an album that is definitely more hit than miss. Elsewhere, instrumentals Grab The Devil By The Horns… and Ride The Chariot To The Devil, with their harmonised guitar leads and gallop picking, pay homage to the band’s heavy metal influences which would become more prominent in later releases.
The album, above all, is upbeat, catchy and fun – and this continues right up to closing track Another Time Around. The song finishes with a typical end-of-concert style bonanza, with wailing guitars, repeated crashing cymbals and furious fills. When everything stops, there’s a second’s silence and then we have…another bonanza. Just to eke out the album length that little bit more. Extravagant? Yeah. Shamelessly self-indulgent? Sure. A fittingly humorous and memorable end to an enjoyable listening experience? Absolutely.
Half Hour Of Power captures the youthful exuberance of Sum 41 in their early years and showcases the potential they have gone on to fulfil in a long and fruitful career. Essential listening for the dedicated fan – and recommended if you love pop-punk!