They’re back, and heavier than ever!
The sixth studio album from Sum 41, is a definite change of pace from their previous creations. The album sees the return of guitarist Dave Baskh after a nine year absence, also the addition of new drummer Frank Zummo – taking over from Steve Jocz. The years previous to this album were very hard times for Deryk Whibley. After overcoming addiction and several health problems, the bad have managed to put together an album that comes across as both ambitious and very personal. The 90’s pop punk kings don’t sound or look very pop punk anymore, certain tracks even showing a new metal presence to their music, which is something obviously attention-grabbing. This album is full of try-hard titles such as Goddamn I’m Dead Again, There Will Be Blood and War. Every title relates to death in some way, which is a new thought-provoking direction.
The opening track A Murder of Crows starts dramatically, with a tense, 90’s Tekkan videogame-like beat accompanied by soothing violins. It then drops into the typical Sum 41 sound with basic breakdowns and no stand out features. Deryck Whibley’s voice is as distinct as ever, even in this song, the track consisting of one verse with repetitive hooks. This song is extremely personal, the lyrics: ‘Takes a lot to just right the wrong, Just never felt this, so alive’ shows how Whibley knows he messed up bad, but he’s trying to right the wrong.
Goddamn I’m Dead Again starts with a pop-punk like beat, but then instantly kicks into a beasty guitar riff which knocks us straight off course. The metal-like guitar presence is strong throughout this song. It still sounds like them – same vocal patterns and similar lyrics, but with a refreshing rock revamp. ‘It’s off with his head, and on with the show, the old king is dead, gone in one fatal blow, and I don’t believe he’ll be coming back for more’ these lyrics show how personal this album is. It also shows how they have changed, but they will carry on for both themselves and the fans. The track still hints pop-punk throughout, but the guitar tempo change expresses the change psychically and well as vocally.
Fake My Own Death is the most popular single from the album. It starts quiet then blasts into yet another rhythm-y guitar beat. When the drums kick in it makes it sound quite generic, but then the vocals drop exposing their punk roots. The chorus is reminiscent of With Me from 2007’s Underclass Hero. This song shows they still have their edge they started with, displaying clearly that Baskh wants the audience to hear he has returned, but also demonstrate how they have changed. After hearing the song and watching the video released for it, it is clear they want to joke around and have a good time, not fully matured but are trying to be a bit more serious.
Breaking the Chain sounds a lot like a Linkin Park classic, a much mellower change from the first few songs on the album. This track really expresses how Whibley feels. Make no mistake, I’ve paid my price, I’ve done my time with the devil in disguise shows his true remorse for his previous mistakes. And yet again, they interpret a rhythmic guitar riff into the song, but this time it exaggerates the pain and gives it that gloomy edge.
There will be blood is another change of pace, as it doesn’t relate to the previous heart aching tracks. It’s rebellious and obscure to get the kids hyped up, showing they still want to leave their punk impression. ‘We’re gonna burn, We’re gonna burn this town, There’s no return, In all the words we vow’ expresses the need for rebellion. The song has the feel of a dark Marilyn Manson style cult chant.
I really enjoyed the title track 13 Voices. I think it sounds a lot like their older music but with their new modern twist. Starts with a nice gentle western guitar riff and then the pace immediately changes into a thrashing, exciting, whirlwind of pop-punk. This song talks a lot about death and murder which relates to the song titles throughout the album. For example: ‘And I don’t believe in redemption, and no one will be spared’ is just some of the negative connotations used throughout this track.
The single War really blew me away. It’s such a personal and deep song directed at Whibley’s addiction. ‘So all that I’m trying to say, I’m looking for a better way, Some days it just gets so hard, And I don’t wanna slip away’ really explains how he struggles but how he wants to go to war with his problems so he can overcome them. The track itself sounds quite pop, it consists of a piano melody and basic rhythm, but the lyrics really over power everything else.
The track God Save Us All (Death to Pop) shows how they want to mature out of their pop-punk phase. But it is completely contradictory because this track and the previous one are extremely pop. ‘Give it to me, give till you ain’t got anymore, ‘Cause I need it to believe it, that you got any soul’ these lyrics show how this song is very much a pop hit.
The Fall and the Ride is quite similar to some of their earlier work. As is Twisted by Design, this song is also speaks about Whibley’s personal issues again. The album ends with a personal tribute from Whibley which is a really moving finish. This album is enormously personal and very touching. It really shows how they struggled but how they also overcome their personal issues.
Words by Charlotte Griffiths