Sum 41: Screaming Bloody Murder Review

Sum 41 is a Canadian punk rock group best known for their amusingly humorous songs, light-hearted mindset and slightly heavier approach to the genre. With their fifth album, Screaming Bloody Murder, Deryck Whibley and company have completely abandoned the style of music that garnered them popularity and fame in the early 2000’s. This latest Sum 41 album turns its back all the comicality, all the one-minute-long songs and easy-going mentality. Instead, they take a more serious approach with striking lyrics and a greater emphasis on getting every ounce of energy and skill out of each instrument and because of it, Sum 41 emerges as an entirely new and better band and makes Screaming Bloody Murder their greatest album. These words may come as a shock to old-school fans of the band, but this is Sum 41’s American Idiot: a complete abandonment of the silly antics and youth-targeted approach in favor of creating a record with substantial meaning and purpose and that ultimately replaces the old, beloved albums as the band’s best work. Does This Look Infected? and All Killer No Filler will forever be staples in the punk rock scene as albums that helped shape the genre itself. But it’s impossible to deny that the maturation and masterful musicianship of this album is anything less than Sum 41’s crowning achievement.

Standout Tracks

“Screaming Bloody Murder” follow an epic pump-up opener with an equally awe-inspiring track, the first single of the album. As is the case on numerous songs in Screaming Bloody Murder, the pace shifts between high-intensity, heavy punk rock and slowed-down sections filled with Whibley’s soft cooing and piano. These piano-dominated moments add to the song’s artistry and make them more memorable as they quickly build back up into the formidable, electric groan of Whibley’s guitar riffs and rapid, booming drums from Steve Jocz. This song is the best on the album and serves as an immediate indicator of Sum 41’s punk rock talents and ability to create rock music to be taken seriously.

“Jessica Kill” picks the intensity up another notch with a spiraling and melodic guitar riff and furiously upbeat drumming. Whibley’s restrained vocals build up the drama before erupting into the fast-paced and urgent chorus characterized by coarse, half-shouted vocals. The incredible talent behind the drums and guitars is on display once again as Sum 41 delivers a dramatic and head-banging rock gem.

Following the best ballad on the album, “Blood In My Eyes” kicks things back into high gear with yet another epic guitar/drum intro. The tempo slows for the verses as the battle drums build up the tension that is released in a slower, fist-pumping chorus. This chorus is followed by more rapid-fire guitar riffs and drumming while Jason McCaslin gets a chance to show his skills on the bass during the jaw-dropping bridge, one of the most transcendent moments on the album. Whibley’s vocals fluctuate perfectly to reflect the intensity of his instrumental ensemble as he declares “There’s nothing to say now / The feelings are already dead / And I don’t believe there’s a way now / All that is said has been said / I’m waiting for another day, another way / I don’t believe that you can make all the pain go away / So I’ll leave it all behind / But I’m leaving with blood in my eyes.”

The Verdict

Gone is the funny punk group that entertained the punk rock scene with humor and light-hearted music. Fans of Blink-182, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, Sugarcult, Green Day, Hoobastank, Rise Against, Good Charlotte, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Taking Back Sunday should be familiar with this brand of rock, but this new album tops that fun, easy-going approach of the past with some truly epic songs. Screaming Bloody Murder is filled with smarter lyrics, heavier songs and the band’s best work on their respective instruments. Whibley does it all, delivering appropriately aggressive vocals along with a softer, heartfelt voice when required for the song’s two superb ballads. But in addition to his stellar vocal performance, Whibley is also responsible for the song-writing, recording both the lead and rhythm guitars, playing the piano and producing and mixing the album. In short, Screaming Bloody Murder is Whibley’s masterpiece and marks his full transition into a real rock musician. Each and every song serves a purpose in helping with the album’s diversity and all-around epic but heartfelt mood. The tempo rises and falls within multiple tracks, further lending to the artistry and intensity of the music.  From the exhilarating and brooding intro of “Reason To Believe” to impressively moving ballads (“What Am I To Say” and “Crash”), from the transcendently epic bridge of “Holy Image Of Lies” to the bouncy, classic rock and roll influence found on “Time For You To Go” and “Baby, You Don’t Wanna Know,” Screaming Bloody Murder is a brilliant accomplishment that more than makes up for the disappointing Underclass Hero and propels Sum 41 from their former status as an amusing punk band to being a talented and legitimate rock group.

Final Score: 9.4/10

Rank: 1st (five total albums)

Track List

  1. Reason To Believe
  2. Screaming Bloody Murder
  3. Scumfuck
  4. Time For You To Go
  5. Jessica Kill
  6. What Am I To Say
  7. Holy Image Of Lies
  8. Sick Of Everyone
  9. Happiness Machine
  10. Crash
  11. Blood In My Eyes
  12. Baby, You Don’t Wanna Know
  13. Back Where I Belong
  14. Exit Song

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