Sum 41 were a major part of the pop punk movement of the 2000s. Their edge was boosted by high energy riffs and thoughtful - or sometimes rebellious - lyrics. The band's fate was uncertain following 2013, but their comeback album is here in 2016: 13 Voices.
Perhaps taking time off was a good move, because Sum 41 sounds at the top of their game on the new record. The record feels fresh and new, not quite a reinvention but rather a personal rediscovery. Their purpose is clearer on 13 Voices. Their previous five albums made their statement, but not quite as concisely or effectively as this sixth effort.
You know things aren't quite the same right from the intro. Half of the first track 'A Murder Of Crows' is an epic buildup of electronics and strings, and epic orchestra soon backed by thick, brooding guitars before the meat of the song comes in with the same awesome demeanor, gritty vocals paired with sweet melodies to create an electric atmosphere. Just the mere inclusion of strings is enough to give the band some creative credit here. They return in the intro of 'Breaking The Chain', as well, but don't swell in a cinematic way like the former track. Instead, it's a calmer, more progressive build up from the pretty strings to big guitars.
Their pop punk revolution isn't to be ignored. With acts like Moose Blood on the rise (see our review of their album here), pop punk just may be on the brink of revival. Lead single 'Fake My Own Death' saw the band not being afraid to veer away from the signature sound of the genre. It's a standard song, granted, but its guitar work solidifies it as a solid song for pop punk. 'Goddamn I'm Dead Again' does it better, the clapping leading into thick riffs and pounding drums. The song borders punk and alternative metal in a sort of odd dance, the beat and drive obviously punk with a Green Day influence, but there are some killer, dark guitar solos on it that deviate from the standard.
13 Voices has some evil in it, too. Sometimes it works, and sometimes... well, it kind of sounds like My Chemical Romance. The title track '13 Voices' is essentially an MCR ripoff, right down to the vocal delivery. It's a bit sad considering the song had lots of potential, but just feels ripped out of The Black Parade's playbook. Closing track 'Twisted By Design' also has a My Chem vibe, but in a much more natural way that works in the world of Sum 41. The piano intro is followed by dramatic, empowering vocals as the song slowly builds into a driven, thoughtful ending to the record with fantastic melodies. A perfect ending to the record. 'There Will Be Blood' is another song with a brooding, industrial vibe to it, particularly in the slamming delivery of "We'll take the souls of the little ones / And that might be you" in the choruses.
Through the uncertainty, Sum 41 made it through with flying colors. 13 Voices is the start of something big: a new future for the band. A fresh and imaginative sound is here for the Canadian outfit, and they couldn't get off on a better footing with this comeback album. Here's to a new future.
Favorite Tracks: Twisted By Design, A Murder Of Crows, There Will Be Blood
Least Favorite Track: 13 Voices
Rating: 82 / 100