Sum 41 – Screaming Bloody Murder

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

Sum 41

Screaming Bloody Murder - Island Records

A few nights ago I talked about my love affair for pop-punk with a friend, saying how sometimes I just love a band who goes out and just does what they want to do. They say “hey, we’re a pop-punk band to have fun and that’s it” instead of trying to be something more than they are.

Sum 41 used to be like that, and I still smile and pop my head whenever I hear some of their older tunes. With each progressive album, they’ve evolved, becoming darker and left their “signature” sound behind (not that they ever truly had a strict style with the changes from album to album). Now, I hate to be the guy who says their older material was better; but in this case, it’s true.

On Screaming Bloody Murder, the former-Ajax based band seems to have lost their touch, trying to be something that they just aren’t. By creating a dark, brooding album, Sum 41 are once again trying to find themselves and understand who they are. Underclass Hero saw the band go back to some of their pop-punk roots after the heavier Chuck but it felt forced and incomplete. Screaming Bloody Murder takes a step away from the pop-punk sound and instead focuses on a darker yet clean, radio-rock sort of sound (Hoobastank comes to mind as a reference point).

It works to make the album forgettable and bland, and at close to fifty minutes, it’s bloody long as well. There are moments that stand out but those are swamped by the filler. It begins well with a solid opener inReason To Believe – a throwback to the Does This Look Infected? era with elongated vocals and thunderous drums (think AFI’s Prelude 21/12).  But then they pull it in with the slow, piano, ominous title track. Yes, the track kicks into high gear thirty or so seconds in, but the slow introduction throws the listener through a loop.

The album has that up and down feel, Jessica Kill has a ton of hooks with the quiet-loud-quiet verse/chorus/verse structure despite the inherent predictability of it all. Crash is a lengthy piano driven track that sounds out simply because it is so different from the rest of the album – not necessarily in a good way as Whibley’s vocals aren’t able to reach the notes he’s trying to. Add in the fact that there’s still four more tracks afterwards, it seems badly placed and uneven (particularly against the following track Blood In My Eyes which is just them trying waaaayyyy too hard). The three song story-line A Dark Road Out Of Hell seems borrowed from so many other bands lately; especially in the gypsy-tempo to Sick of Everyone that harkens back to My Chemical Romance’s Mama.

Five records in, Sum 41 are suffering from an identity crisis and out of that suffering we’re left with an uneven, long and forgettable album. Evolution is good; but sometimes it’s better to sit back and say “this is what we are” and then just have fun.