Sum 41

Screaming Bloody Murder

Written by: PP on 30/03/2011 23:56:56

Lets face it, the previous Sum 41 album "Underclass Hero" was awful. It was a failure on every possible level when compared to the band's masterpiece "Chuck", where the band went into a dark and heavy place musically and lyrically, essentially releasing a pop-punk influenced metallic hardcore punk record instead of the silly college punk of their "Fat Lip" years, which mind you was enjoyable in its own right. In retrospect, I probably should have rated the record around 3/4 mark instead of the 6 that it received back then. It left their reputation in ruins, fan base fading, and their live shows in shambles, resembling more and more of the commercial heights of a Green Day concert than a cool/fun/bouncy punk band everyone could hum along to innocently and have good times in the process.

And so the band retreated into its shell, lying by the poolsides of their mansions working away for four full years for a solution to a problem which had exactly two possible answers: either the band could continue down the path to irrelevancy by writing another switch-of-the-millennium era college pop rock/punk album in the vein of "Underclass Hero", and become a sad, nostalgic joke to most people, before sinking into hopeless obscurity by this time next year. Or they could do exactly what they've done here on "Screaming Bloody Murder", return to the more mature and darker sound of "Chuck", and attempt to regain the massive expectations left behind by that record, which stands as one of the most intriguing musical evolutions album-to-album by any mainstream band to date.

So yeah, "Screaming Bloody Murder" is an album that's going to divide the Sum 41 fans into two camps once again - those who long for silly pop punk and those who think "Chuck" stands as the best Sum 41 album to date.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to what is in almost every way describable as "Chuck - Part Deux".

It's a dark, heavy, hard-hitting record which doesn't have a shortage in punk rock tempo or screamed verses, picking up almost exactly where "Chuck" left off seven years ago. Many accused that record of ripping off a little too obviously from System Of A Down, a notion which has disappeared almost entirely on "Screaming Bloody Murder". The brooding soundscape is very similar to that concocted by the then-primary songwriter Dave Baksh who left the band in 2006, resulting in a gloomy atmosphere that is almost polar-opposite to the cheerful one found on all Sum 41 albums that aren't named after a dude who helped the band escape from a civil war bulletstorm in a certain African country some years back.

But that's exactly what I've wanted from the next Sum 41 record all along.

"Jessica Kill" is monster catchy, so who cares if it recycles a vocal melody from "Still Waiting". Alongside other songs it maintains a level of heavy we haven't heard in a while from this bands, and when they combine a wall of down-tuned riffs with infectious chorus lines like those on the title track or "Sick Of Everyone", it's difficult not to burst into a sing-a-long. Or maybe I should call it a chant-along, because some of these songs are seriously aggressive to the point that most pop punk lovers will be scared away. Those listening to mainstream radio almost certainly won't be able to digest the thought of listening to a handful of songs from this album more than once, given the full-blast screaming that peaks on a number of tracks throughout the record.

So yeah, "Screaming Bloody Murder" is a step into the right direction. But it certainly isn't without its flaws. The second half of the record falls regrettably short of the first half by all counts. "What Am I To Say", for instance, sounds quite a bit like "Lights And Sounds"-era Yellowcard ballad, and as we all know that's the only Yellowcard album that sucks balls. "Crash" is an awful piano ballad that drags on and on and on, boring the listener to death until the skip track button isn't merely an option anymore rather than a must-press one. "Baby You Don't Wanna Know" isn't outright bad, but it does have that generic mainstream heavy rock feeling to it, kinda like modern era Papa Roach.

These tracks, among one or two others, pull down the rating of "Screaming Bloody Murder" by a notch, cheating Sum 41 from the opportunity to receive one of the first overtly positive reviews in over half a decade. With tracks like "Jessica Kill", "Screaming Bloody Murder", "Blood In My Eyes", "Skumfuk" and "Sick of Everyone", it's easy to lull yourself into the thought that Sum 41 have returned to the glory days of "Chuck". But we can't just ignore the weak tracks, and as such, the rating reflects the inconsistency of about one-third of the material on the album. That said, giving a recommended stamp is still within reasonable limits all things considered.


Download: Jessica Kill, Screaming Bloody Murder, Sick Of Everyone
For the fans of: a darker Green Day, "Chuck" by this band, Papa Roach
Listen: Myspace

Release date 29.03.2011
Island Records

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