13 Voices review by Sum 41

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  • Released: Oct 7, 2016
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 4
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 4 Poor
  • Users' score: 7.1 (68 votes)
Sum 41: 13 Voices

Sound — 4
As pop punk bands make a name for themselves with a few simple and catchy hits, the journey after that initial success is one that many have had a tough time navigating. For Sum 41, they made a confident first step in a different direction with 2004's "Chuck," which peppered in alt rock and alt metal moments with their pop punk sound, but things would go downhill from there. 2007's "Underclass Hero" received much critical panning for its attempt of a more mature pop/rock sound clashing with the straightforward pop punk appeal of the band, not to mention the moments where the album felt like it was ripping off bands like Green Day, Blink-182 and Smashing Pumpkins. Whether dismissing that criticism or acting directly in spite of it, Sum 41 would commit even further to those musical aspirations with 2011's "Screaming Bloody Murder" - though this only continued to polarize those who hated the new direction, between that outcome or seeing Sum 41 high-tail it back to their dependable pop punk style, it was actually a decent step in another direction.

The recent activity of Sum 41 has been framed as a revival of sorts. After frontman Deryck Whibley's health issues put a damper on the band's activity, 2015 was a major rebuilding phase, with Sum 41 starting a crowd-funding campaign for their intended sixth album, and reuniting with original lead guitarist Dave Baksh. It's a helpful narrative, especially when many have adhered to the idea that the band had lost their way in the last couple of albums, but with their sixth album, "13 Voices," Sum 41 don't return to their pop punk, but instead, don themselves with all the bells and whistles of contemporary pop rock that they can. Along with big and empty arena rock characteristics of stomp/clap beats and singalongs in "There Will Be Blood" and "War," orchestral components that were reasonably dabbled with in "Underclass Hero" now act as an overly grandiose crutch, heard in "A Murder of Crows" and "Breaking the Chain."

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This ostentatious pop mentality in the composition of "13 Voices" is a clear example of how building too much around a good, simple idea buries its virtues, often being the kiss of death for bands who veer in this direction. At the base of Sum 41's songwriting, numerous songs wield some alright riffs, but get encumbered with a mess load of other components (see the overstuffed eponymous song and "God Save Us All (Death to POP)") or cramped and tinny production jobs (see "Fake My Own Death" and "The Fall and the Rise"). The guitar aspect of the album also tries reaching a new peak in the shredding guitar solos of "Goddamn I'm Dead Again," a throwback to the notable guitar solo activity in "Chuck," but it overshoots the mark, coming off as hyperbolic as DragonForce or Falling In Reverse.

Lyrics — 4
With Whibley's lyrics in Sum 41's previous couple of albums upping the ante in substance, his lyrics in "13 Voices" tumble from those previously higher levels, despite the general themes being a mix between the rebellious likes of "Underclass Hero" and the existential subject matter in "Screaming Bloody Murder." This time around, Whibley sounds much more vague and aimless in his declarations of resistance ("I'm ready to settle the score / Get ready 'cause this is war" in "War"; "And now I'm coming back stronger and I'm shooting just to kill" in "The Fall and the Rise"; "I'll be there just to put a bullet in your head" in the eponymous song), and numerous lyrics just seem like reiterations of the same themes, like that of time ("I've got a lease on borrowed time" in "Goddamn I'm Dead Again"; "Days pass me by like I'm saving wasted time" in "Breaking the Chain"), selling one's soul ("At least I've still got a soul to sell" in "Fake My Own Death"; "Just sell your souls for the lowest bargain" in "There Will Be Blood"), and dealing with the devil ("Make no mistake, I've paid my price / I've done my time with the devil in disguise" in "Breaking the Chain"; "I've been to hell and back still, I've paid the devil his bills" in "The Fall and the Rise"), being as cookie-cutter as the album's sound.

Overall Impression — 4
While at face value, it's more commendable of Sum 41 to make a comeback album that takes a new step forward rather than trying to be "All Killer, No Filler, pt. II," the attempt to sound larger than life in the arena rock output of "13 Voices" rings hollow with its overloaded arrangements and embellished production value heard by plenty of other pop rock acts. Compared to the more mindful songwriting in "Screaming Bloody Murder" that made efforts to be reserved and dynamic, "13 Voices" wants to be as big and loud as it can be, making it a very boring, exhaustible album.

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    What the *uck with this review and reviewer?
    Well i think that album turned out great. It's got energy, power and a lot of feel to it. You can really hear that it's gotten a bit heavier again as Dave Brownsoud is back in there. I'd give it at least a 7
    Wait, the reviewer didn't even like A Murder of Crows?? That is the best album intro I've heard in a long time.
    To me Screaming Bloody Murder was a masterpiece, this feels like a good combination of a re-start with some continuation from SBM. Shame about the very low rating
    Oh man, one of my favourite albums of all time. It really threw me off at first how dark it sounded, but an open mind and a few playthroughs later I warmed up to it. Especially Skumfuck and the trilogy, most notably when Happiness Machine plays!
    Couldn't disagree more with this review. I thought the album was fantastic and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I highly disagree with this review. The entire album is about his alcoholism and recovery, at times it is hopeful that he will get through it, at other times at a low. Rather than saying all the songs have the same theme you should look deeper into what part of the recovery he is at and treat it as a journey. I personally think there is no bad song on the album. Usually with Sum 41 there at at least a few songs that I feel aren't worth listening to most days, but since I have got this albuum I have listened to it many times and still feel each song is good enough to warrant a listen. At times I can hear some of the old songs influencing the new ones, but only a little, but that is just saying "They sound like Sum 41 after song time has passed" which it has. So yeah, I disagree with this review.
    This is easily their best effort since Chuck. Did Anthony Fantano write this trash review?
    Sam Mendez is tryin to be chaotic evil in every review, but only end up being loud and dull. Although the album was a slight letdown, due to its inconsistency throughout it or smth like that, but all in all its 6 or light 7. Soloing in Goddamn I'm Dead Again kick some ass
    No guys. Every album review gets between a 6 and a 9. This album doesnt even deserve a fucking 4. Its total garbage. 99% of album reviews here end up between 6-8, it makes the 1-10 scale totally useless. This thing is a 2
    Just because you don't like it doesn't mean everyone else won't either. Get that fudge monkey out of your ass, it's making you cranky.
    This comment seems pretty double standard-y. Why are you not telling the guys above that just because they like it doesn't mean everyone else will, and doesn't mean it should be rated higher than 4, as claimed?
    Because this Mr. Self-righteous thinks he's the emperor of music. Seems like a negative person in general as well, can't look at any good in anything.
    Write your own review then. This reviewer wrote HIS. It's like YOU said, his opinion to which he is entitled. He doesn't need to pander to you. And in his opinion, the album is sub-par(5 is average, 1 is garbage). I don't completely agree, but I do agree with most he's said.
    And also, you should give it a lil break, Deryck almost died and it's really cool to have him and the gang back on track
    Almost dying doesn't give you a free pass for the rest of your life, where everyone says everything you do is awesome, just because you nearly died. Millions of people nearly die everyday and no one gives a fuck. You could try harder to get both balls in your mouth next time.
    Agree with this review. Fake my own death is the only song i like. These guys can be a real hit or miss band
    UFC on VHS
    No booze you lose, no junk no funk. Get back partying and right some real music Deryck. Haha jk but it must be hard to write sober after all these years.
    Just listened to the record for the first time : even 10 years after, the 14th year old me is still enjoying that. I think this is a really good record ! Is it easy and sometimes cheezy ? Hell yes, but what did you expect, it's pop-punk ! I think they did it great, they even show some unexpected guitar skills !