The past few years have been a tumultuous time for Sum 41. Since the release of their previous album, Screaming Bloody Murder, the pop punk giants ended up on a five year hiatus due to frontman Deryck Whibley’s debilitating alcoholism. 13 Voices comes at the forefront of a reunion tour and the return of old guitarist Dave ‘Brownsound’ Baksh, a move celebrated by older fans of the band.
On a first listen, their latest effort isn’t entirely convincing. Sum 41 have opted- possibly due to the re-introduction of Brownsound -for a sound more reminiscent of their metal-tinged album Chuck, with influence definitely being taken from Brownsound’s metal project Brown Brigade. On the track ‘Goddamn I’m Dead Again’, this influence is channeled almost perfectly, bringing one of the best songs- and best guitar solo -that I’ve heard in the band’s 6 albums.
However, within the 10 tracks of the album, the lack of variation was disappointing. Tracks like ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘God Save Us All (Death to POP)’ were forgettable on repeat listens, and the lyrics on certain songs are laughably cringe-worthy. Nevertheless, I found myself grooving along even to the worst tracks of the album.
Is 13 Voices a return to form for one of pop punk’s most respected veterans or a failed attempt by a band past their prime to maintain relevancy? Although I side more with the former, this album is not without its faults. If your only experience with Sum 41 is their seminal debut All Killer, No Filler, this album may disappoint.
However, 13 Voices shows a re-emergence of what made the band’s heavier albums like Chuck great. Although it isn’t a perfect record by any means, the album shows a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to what Sum 41 do next.