Sum 41 - Screaming Bloody Murder
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Record Label: Island Records (US)
Sum 41 is without a doubt one of the more prominent names in the history of pop punk. The band's first three records made an influential dent in the formative years of many fans. Sum 41 was one of the first bands to really pursue and successfully use the aggressive pop punk format to make both huge hits and solid entire records in the early 2000s. But after 2004's Chuck, things took a turn for the worse for the Canadians. 2007's Underclass Hero was largely considered a failure by critics and fans alike, and now the four-piece is back with its first album in four years and fifth release for Island Records (in the US).
Screaming Bloody Murder is definitely a step back in the right direction for the band, but it really leaves listeners wondering where exactly the group wants to be. Underclass Hero was a departure away from the heavier sounds of Chuck, going back to the more traditional pop punk sound featured on the band's first records. But that record just wasn't executed very well, only surfacing a couple of worthwhile songs and mainly just providing listeners with a lot of filler.
Unfortunately, not too much has changed in that specific department. With 14 songs that total 49 minutes, the album feels unnecessarily long at multiple times. Sum 41 is clearly aiming for a more in-depth sound on their fifth record, not unlike the goals of Underclass Hero, and while the outcome is better than the last attempt, it's still not stellar.
There are several solid tracks on Screaming Bloody Murder - opener "Reason To Believe" kicks off an impressive first half that contains multiple standouts - but there are also a handful of songs that just shouldn't be hanging around. The opener starts with a booming build-up, and although it's sort of epic just for the sake of being epic, it's fun to listen to. The record is well produced, something that is evident right from the beginning. The song features plenty of opportunities for fist-pumping sing-alongs with frontman Deryck Whibley, but when the band slows things down in the bridge to round out the song, you sort of just wish they kept it going with their foot on the accelerator.
The title track is another standout, highlighted by the dueling forces of Whibley's guitar work and Jason McCaslin's bass lines. On this particular song, it's Steve Jocz's drumming that keeps the chorus driving, focused and easily to fall in love with. Overall, the track is a perfect slice into what this band should be doing: making dirty pop punk that is easy to sing along to and even easier to adore from afar, with no delusions of grandeur or anything of that sort.
Unfortunately, the band does indeed offer up some filler songs, stretching far away from the once-upon-a-time mantra of All Killer, No Filler. "What Am I To Say" is the prime example of a track that seems out of place, starting with an ambience-focused acoustic guitar before fleshing out into some sweeping shenanigans with lots of extended vocals. Usually, a band whose best work lies in songs that sit under three minutes isn't going to be all that great when their songs run over four minutes, something that happens four times on Screaming Bloody Murder.
"Happiness Machines" comes across as somewhat hastily put together, giving the impression that there were a few too many ideas thrown around and not enough shot down. "Over Now" is a piano-led ballad that would have been better off as a b-side. Luckily, Sum 41 more than makes up for the misses with home runs on the catchier tracks. "Jessica Kills" is the best song on this record, definitely a throwback to Sum 41's older work with a chorus that is eerily reminiscent of "Still Waiting" from Does This Look Infected? That track follows "Time For You To Go," cementing the first half of Screaming Bloody Murder as the more impressive.
The second half, like I said, has some filler and has a few songs that aren't really true to the band's sound. Tracks like "Blood In My Eyes" and "Crash" give off the impression that Sum 41 wants to follow in the footsteps of Green Day, while others like "Sick Of It All" provide some shades of My Chemical Romance.
While it's understood that every band grows up eventually, and no band is expected to re-make the same album again and again, not all groups are meant to mature into huge, world-renowned rock opera conductors. "Blood In My Eyes" sounds like an American Idiot b-side, but Sum 41 doesn't pull off that sound nearly as well as Green Day. Screaming Bloody Murder shows that Sum 41 is more than capable of still writing an aggressive and catchy pop punk album, but leaving out the anthems and show-off-y songs is an important thing to note in the future.
I want them to be good, I still listen to Underclass.....well a couple of tracks but, I dunno something is missing. I think the reason we go back to Blink is because of the way it makes us feel plus the fact that their sound has gotten a little more mature (dare I say it) and so has their fans, which is growing with your fans. Makes sense to me but with 'The Sums'......I just dont get that feeling you know. I cant see them making new fans and I dont think they are making the music they actually wanna make. Maybe who knows, I just think something is missing
first off, ill agree that there is probably some filler on the album. but hey, with 14 tracks, there's bound to be a few right? as a huge sum 41 fan, i dont mind it that much because more songs is better than less songs (unless there are no good ones to begin with).
with that being said, i really liked what i heard from the previews, and think they did a great job with this record. The title track has quickly become one of my favorite songs. I agree that Jessica Kill sounds like the best on the record. one last thing, it was mentioned that blood in my eyes sounds like an american idiot b-side. imo, it's one hell of a b-side because i like it better than anything i heard on american idiot. good review though
This band has been dealing with an identity crisis since Chuck, so this review comes as no real surprise. A few heavier songs, attempts at being epic, a ballad or two, and some straight-up pop-punk fun. I feel like they've been chasing a "hit" for years now, and it just hasn't happened even though it should have. They've had some great ballad-esque songs over the years.
I'm still a bit shocked they haven't been dropped. I've dug everything they've done, but they just seem to be declining in popularity.
I haven't liked any records they've put out except for a couple songs on All Killer and Chuck. Underclass Hero was repetitive as fuck. I probably won't be listening to this right away but it sounds interesting enough for me to at least check out a song or two.