Sum 41
Underclass Hero



by ninjuice USER (49 Reviews)
December 6th, 2007 | 6 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rivaled only by Minutes to Midnight as the biggest disappointment of 2007, Sum 41 return to the pop punk that got them famous six years ago (albeit with a few more slow tracks). Ultimately it’s average quality – no more, no less.

In at least three ways, 2007 marked somewhat of a “comeback” year to me. Three widely successful rock bands that had lain dormant for three years – Chevelle, Linkin Park and Sum 41 – released new albums. But as most everyone now knows, Vena Sera was the only respectable one out of the three.

Sum 41’s last album, Chuck, saw the band actually going somewhere musically. It took the metal influences that were apparent on previous albums and injected them into a somewhat diverse sounding rock effort with an overall quality much better than one would expect. Despite briefly ripping off Metallica (Bitter End=Battery), I really feel it was a good album.

But perhaps because of lead guitarist Dave Baksh’s non-bitter departure (he appears to have been the biggest reason for the metal sound), the band decided to go back to their previous sound of simple, energetic and slightly fun pop punk. In this respect you can’t really call this a letdown, anyone paying attention knew they were going this direction – especially after hearing the title track and March of the Dogs. Forgive the added background, but I personally used to quite enjoy All Killer No Filler. Many of you will probably remember that I was actually “digging” this album for a couple weeks. But one has to be realistic – this is average punk rock, plain and simple.

On to the actual music - perhaps the biggest problem comes from Dave Barksh’s departure, because without him, the guitars on here are hardly noteworthy. Deryck barely does a bad job on his own, it’s just that he doesn’t do much you haven’t heard from, say, Good Charlotte, Blink 182, or maybe even Simple Plan. Most of the riffs here consist of either simple chord progressions or quick paced power chords, and in the end they’re quite boring. There are, however, some good leads (see The Jester) and a decent solo halfway through Pull the Curtain.

As a vocalist, Deryck Whibley’s better than most of his peers. Instead of the whiney, slightly high-pitched and nasally vocals that seem to plague the genre, his voice is basically a mid-pitched wail that doesn’t need to be tolerated. He knows not to try something like a falsetto, and his shouts and screams found here sound pretty good.

Perhaps the album that Underclass Hero most resembles musically and lyrically is Rise Against’s The Sufferer and the Witness. But whereas Tim McIlrath can actually write politically charged lyrics with imagery and metaphors, Whibley’s lyrics fall flat because they’re either plain or sometimes horrible. March of the Dogs features a bridge where he rhymes words like “dead”, “fled” and “head” rhymed a staggering 8 times in a row, almost ruining what would otherwise me a decent song.

The bass is slightly better than your average album, as it’s actually heard, and contributes to the overall driving feel and fast tempo. Drummer Stevo is still nothing to get excited about; despite a couple semi-interesting fills and beats the guy simply knows what a song requires.

There’s a couple other good things, like the inclusion of piano and strings on select tracks. However, like the album itself, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before and these songs are still quite unoriginal.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this and All Killer, No Filler (their most similar album) is that they take almost close to no chances musically. The band has returned to what they feel comfortable doing, creating quite catchy and energetic punk. Despite said catchiness, and being far from awful, both albums do absolutely nothing new. Although it’s quite better than Good Charlotte’s and Simple Plan’s latest albums, Sum 41 sadly falls flat as a very forgettable release.

Standout tracks:
Underclass Hero – Despite being a rehash of Fat Lip’s main riff, rapped verse and catchy chorus, the song is (sadly) a standout on the album.
Walking Disaster – Starts out sounding like a ballad, but picks up (around a minute in) with a quick guitar riff. The end result is a mega-catchy song with the best chorus on here.
Count Your Last Blessings – A slow piano driven verse picks up for one of the most driving songs on here. If you like this music at all, it’s bound to get your head bobbing.

Recent reviews by this author
Lo-Fi Scorpio NoirLiving Sacrifice The Infinite Order
A Fine Frenzy Bomb In A BirdcageMyChildren MyBride Unbreakable
John Mayer Battle StudiesEternal Tears of Sorrow Children of the Dark Waters
user ratings (906)
other reviews of this album
Mikesn EMERITUS (3.5)
Sum 41 returns to its poppier roots and manages to craft a fun, enjoyable album....

SowingSeason STAFF (1.5)
Giving Sum 41 the benefit of the doubt, this album is still too pop-oriented for its own good....

Dave de Sylvia STAFF (1)
Painted the album as a faster, punker American Idiot, the reality is that the music is inoffensive a...

Jimmyfree450 (4.5)
Plain and simple, this album rocks from start to finish....

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 6th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

The other reviews on here were both good, but I felt this album was neither awful nor great. Comments and votes are appreciated as always, and I hope the only weak part is my song descriptions at the end.

Electric City
December 6th 2007


Were you really expecting that much from Minutes to Midnight?

December 6th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

Well I've always thought Meteora was decent and almost as good as Hybrid Theory. I never expected they'd do a complete 180 from everything that made the music interesting. Not to mention "What I've Done" was a very slightly promising single.

Seems like I either made a bad choice of album to review or it just isn't that great of a review.

December 6th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I liked this review, and i don't think the album was terrible. Just too poppy i guess

December 19th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I think this album is definitely a step back from Chuck musically... but Brown Sound left turning a 4 piece into a 3 piece so thats kinda expected... I think you got something confused... a good album vs. an innovative album... as far as pop punk is concerned i think the album is dead on, nothing new, but catchy as shit.

February 23rd 2009


i haven't heard this album but knew straight away from hearing the single what had happened (the basic pop-punk 'da da snare, da da snare, da da snare, da da da da' structure of the song was a dead give-away). I heard that brown sound left the band, so hearing them take a step back into pop punk wasn't a surprise. It's not a good step. I appreciated their interesting metal/rock thing they had going in 'chuck' and a few years back really liked 'still waiting'. but it's unfortunate the best musician of the band left.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy