Four years since the release of the much maligned ‘Underclass Hero’, Sum 41 return with their fifth studio album, ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’. Produced by Derek Whibley and the first to feature new lead guitarist Tom Thacker, the album is described by the band themselves as more akin to the sound featured on ‘Chuck’.
The title track and first single ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’ is one of the best songs they’ve written in some time. Bursting into life after a short piano led introduction, it bounces along with the slightly metallic edged pop-punk that was most prevalent in previous albums, and possesses the sort of energy and hunger that they seemed to be missing on ‘Underclass Hero’.
‘Time For You To Go’ is an old school sounding rock ‘n’ roll song, with a slight Green Day influence in the vocals, whilst ‘Jessica Kill’ is a definite highlight, recapturing some of the energy and attitude present on ‘Does This Look Infected?’.
‘Screaming Bloody Murder’ is definitely an album of two halves, and proves that Sum 41 still have quite a bit of work to do to fully recapture what made the band what they were in the first place. Whilst the first half lays to rest the ghost of ‘Underclass Hero’ and proves they can still write songs in the same vein as ‘Still Waiting’ and ‘We’re All To Blame, the second half tails off and sounds tired and rushed like the lengthy ‘Happiness Machine’ and the Green Day-esque duo of ‘Blood In My Eyes’ and ‘Baby You Don’t Wanna Know’. There are occasional exceptions such as the surprisingly decent, lighters-in-the-air ballad ‘Crash’, and occasional, but all too brief, flashes of brilliance throughout the remaining songs.
Boasting a rather lengthy time limit and track list, ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’ could’ve done with being streamlined a bit more, some tracks made shorter for more of an impact. You can’t help but think they’re trying to put a bit too much into the album; the old Sum 41 would have cut the bookended piano parts from tracks such as ‘Skumfuk’, ‘Reason To Believe’ and the title track. The production on the album is very impressive, giving the tracks depth and punch and Whibley‘s vocals have also improved on this album.
As much as this is an album of two halves, it should still be regarded as a step back in the right direction. Here’s hoping they rediscover what made their sound in the first place and write more songs like the first half of the album, and less like the second.
Written by Alex Mitchell-Fox
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