Sound — 10
Probably the most notable thing about this album is the transition they made in their overall sound. They went from being "Blink 182's snottier kid brothers" (which I always thought was an idiotic remark anyway) to one of if not the greatest punk band at the time. The sound is heavier, the riffs are better, and the band's muscianship and songwriting skills has progressed to levels previously un-imaginable in pop-punk.
Lyrics — 9
The band's maturity is also appearent in the lyrics. Instead of mindlessly singing about getting dumped, wrecking hotel rooms, and 'nonkonformitee' like most bands in the genre, and their past albums they write about overcoming problems (The Hell Song, Over My Head, My Direction, All Messed Up, Hyper-Insomnia-Para-Condroid), and social ignorance and cruelty (Still Waiting, Mr. Amsterdam, Thanks For Nothing, Billy Spleen, Hooch). Certainly a step up, but still not perfect. Also there's an obvious improvement in Deryck's already great vocal talent, and in the backup vocals. Steve and Cone do backup better than 90% of punk bands.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall I thought this was a great album, but I'll take the time to go over each song individualy. 01. The Hell Song - a great punk anthem and a great opener. At first it sounds like old Sum 41, but then they shake things up with a non-covential song pattern (intro, extra long verse, chorus, solo, short verse, chorus, outro), and a great guitar solo that ties the song together. Also great dynamics. Hate the name though, it has nothing to do with the actual song. 02. Over My Head - a excellently crated song, great dynamics, and an almost haunting sound. My only change is I think during the chorus they have had at least one of the guitars play the chord progression in octaves instead of power chords, but it's only a minor difference anyway. 03. My Direction - another brilliantly crafted, fun song. It starts off with a catchy pop-punk chorus, then blazes into a hardcore angst-filled verse raging against everthing wrong with society, and how each individual has the power to change. The second verse slows down reverting back to pop-punk, and despite all the rapid dynamic changes the song flows. I also love the different guitar tones they use to create a classic punk feel. 04. Still Waiting - starts out with an almost whispered vocal and palm-muted guitar intro chorus, then erupts with a guitar immitation of the vocal melody. The verse is super heavy with a fast hardcore guitar and bass riff, and screaming vocals. The raw energy and angst of the song continues into the anthemetic chrous (complete with great back-up), into the breakdown, bridge, and guitar solo (not that great, but perfect for the song). The song is riveting, dynamic, and powerful, and has great lyrics. The only problem is as previously stated it comes right after My Direction, killing the mood it set. One of my favorites. 05. A.N.I.C. - 37 seconds of blasting, rage-filled hardcore punk. Although it's the worst song on the album, and probably should have been left out, it does expand the versatility of the band. Also they squeezed it in between the two best sonngs on the album, killing that mood as well. 06. No Brains - one of my favorites. Love the choppy guitar and bass riff, and vocal melody combined woth the steady grunge drum beat during the verse. I also the the random bits of metal and hardcore tossed in here and there, an ther anthemetic tri-vocal soft part of the second bridge. But what really makes this song stick out is the insane thrashing guitar solo. Guitar solos aren't found often in punk of any kind, and this song clearly establishes Dave as one of the greatest punk guitarists ever. Once again though, the name has nothing to do with the song. 07. All Messed Up - once again they kill the mood with the album's popiest song squeezed between it's two heaviest. Not only that, but this song just lack, although it's kind sorta nice to have on there just to know that Sum hasn't completely done away with their older stuff. 08. Mr. Amsterdam - the heaviest and most metalish track on the album. Starts out with a few blasting metal chords, then progresses into a creepy, yet slightly punkish octave progression. The verse is intrancing with super fast single note palm muted tremelo picking, and barely audible haunting vocals. The pre-chorus is heavier with all-out metal screaming, before the super-fast hardcore chorus and breakdown. Innovative, and great. Also probably some of the best lyricism on the album next to Still Waiting. Again wtf with the name? 09. Thanks For Nothing - it's good I guess, but it sounds too much like Fat Lip. The guitar and the chorus is cool so. 10. Hyper-Insomnia-Para-Condroid - another great creepy metal-ish track. The into is weird, but the vocals during the verse are amazing, and the chorus completes the mood. Love the ending. It could have used a solo though. 11. Billy Spleen - for once on the album they have a song flows perfectly from the previous one, and into the next one. I love the intro and the chorus, but they don't go together. The intro and verse sound all-out metal, but the chorus sound pop-punk. It works though. Weirdest name yet. 12. Hooch - man they need to work on names. Anyways great song, great chorus, great outro, great closer.