If I had to choose one word to describe the new Sum 41 album, 13 Voices, I wouldn’t find any. I mean, waw, what a comeback! The words are kind of missing right now. I had been waiting for this for quite a long time. Some might say that it’s been only 3 years since the band decided to take a break. However, 3 years without Sum 41 feels like an eternity, especially since this band means a lot to me and to a whole generation that has never stopped jumping to massive punk-rock hits such as In Too Deep or Fat Lip.
After the release of Screaming Bloody Murder in 2011, the band went on tour, and decided to take a break in 2013 in order to start working on a new record. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned, as Deryck Whibley (lead singer & guitarist), got serious health issues. When I learned that he was suffering from serious alcoholism and that his liver & kidney had shut down, I thought that he wouldn’t make it out alive, and so did the doctors. Fortunately, Deryck got out of the hospital but still had to learn how to walk & play music again.
After the frontman’s fight to recover and the massive support of the band’s fan base, Sum 41 are back with an album which is, in my opinion, one the best records they have ever made. Let me give you the three main reasons why I love this album so much.
It tells us a touching & poignant story:
Usually, lyrics are not the first thing I focus on when listening to an album, although I can’t deny that they are of the highest importance. But this time, I think that it is the main strong point of this record. As you may know, this album is basically a chronology of Deryck’s recovery and his evolution as a person since his hospitalization, as the song Fall to Rise says. But for me, the song that best illustrates the moving aspect of 13 Voices is War, which is my favourite song of the record and, in my opinion, one of the best songs Sum 41 have ever made. Deryck wrote it when he thought he was never going to get better and that he would never manage to be sober again. What really touched me is that this song is, as Deryck said in many interviews, a “battle cry”. Indeed, it deals with the war he waged on himself when being torn between two options: surrender, or fight & push forward in order to get better and start afresh. As I’ve always considered music as a means to give hope, I think that War is exactly what a song should be: a story people can identify with. In my opinion, this song has the power to save people’s lives, as it saved Deryck’s.
It is musically powerful and innovative:
I think that we all agree by saying that Sum 41’s records have always been the very definition of power. But considering the break the band took for 3 years, I have the impression that the amount of energy that the boys used to put in their songs has been multiplied when listening to the new record. Indeed, unlike Screaming Bloody Murder, released in 2011, this new record has lot more punk-rock influences and is therefore a revival.
First of all, I think it’s important to remind that during his recovery, Deryck was more afraid to know that maybe he may never play music again than never be able to walk again, which is absolutely incredible and shows how much this man loves music. According to me, we can really feel that Deryck missed making music when hearing the album, and that’s what makes it so powerful.
Then, obviously, I couldn’t write about the new Sum 41 record without talking about the comeback of Dave Baksh that had left the band 9 years ago. It feels good to hear his guitar solos again, doesn’t it? Thanks to his return, the band is now composed of 3 guitarists bringing lots of powerful riffs & a strong distortion that were kind of missing on the previous album.
As I said, this record is a new beginning for Sum 41, not only as a band with its former guitarist and a new drummer (Frank Zummo), but also musically speaking. Indeed, as Dave Baksh said in an interview, 13 Voices is a clever mix of Sum 41’s signature sounds and new ones. By the way, I think that we should all be open-minded and appreciate bands’ choices to try something new. Everybody evolves and most of the time, it’s for the better! And it’s the case for Sum 41. Indeed, in this new record, the band worked with new instruments, such as strings (violin, cello…) in Breaking the Chains and the opening song A Murder of Crows, which is, by the way, the best introduction song the band has ever made. I think that this choice was quite judicious as it enhances the powerful guitar riffs even more and proves that classical music instruments and electric ones are a perfect match.
It is filled with the Sum 41 metal influences that we love:
Sum 41 are well-known for putting metal influences in their songs. According to me, these influences were missing in Screaming Bloody Murder but they are definitely back in this new record! I’m thinking about the song There Will be Blood as an example. The song’s guitar riffs are certainly the ones that I like the most on the album, as they remind me of the previous Sum 41 eras. Personally, when l listen to the album, I can notice some kind of similarities with other upbeat and energetic records such as Does This Look Infected? or Chuck, which proves that the band managed to try new things while keeping their identity.
Frankly, I can’t find any negative points on this album. However, the only thing that the band could have done in order to improve it is adding songs that don’t relate Deryck’s story in order to slightly balance the lyrical content.
Honestly, I started to be worried that the boys might not come back. But now, with this incredible revival, Sum 41 have still a wonderful career ahead!