Sound — 9
Sum 41 have brought their best with their latest effort, which is the first to feature their new guitarist, Tom Thacker of Gob. If I had to describe the sound of Screaming Bloody Murder in one word it would simply be "epic" because that's exactly what this record is. It's an epic, something the likes of which won't be found anywhere else. This was possibly the best album I've heard in years. If you turn Sum 41's career into some sort of movie, then this would be one hell of a climax. Every song has been packed with hard hitting guitars and are all contrasted by soft piano. Yes, sometimes you can do without the piano, such as in "Reason to Believe" where the chorus is so powerful that you'd just wish they continued down that road. "Screaming bloody Murder" the title track, is possibly the most conventional song you'll find on the album, which is a good thing, because this record aims to be something different, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't accomplish this quite successfully. Two tracks of interest, "Baby You Don't Wanna Know" and "Time For You To Go" seem a bit out of place, being quite upbeat and punky for such a dark, hard album, but they're good enough to prove they deserve to stay, as opposed to being relegated to B-sides. Some of my favorite tracks include "Jessica Kill" and "Back Where I Belong" are hard hitting heavy tracks which push singer Daryck Whibley's abilities to the limit, with choruses that stretch his voice high to help out their powerful sounds. One reason these may be some of my favorite are because they're short, sweet, and to the point. No piano, no breaks, just out-of-this-world, grade A music, better than most of the stuff I've ever heard not only out of Sum 41, but form any band. The masterpiece of the albuim however, is "Dark Road Out of Hell" a 12 minute song divided into 3 tracks, "Holy Image of Lies", "Sick of Everyone", and "Happiness Machine". These 3 tracks are the most diverse on the album, switching off seamlessly between the hard and soft sides that Screaming Bloody Murder conveys so well. One of my favorite switch offs on the album is in "Happiness Machine" as it goes from the mid-tempo grungy verse to a fast-paced, light chorus backed by acoustic guitar. Without rambling on about every track, I'll end by saying what Sum 41 brings in Screaming Bloody Murder takes what was their A game, and throws it out the window, trumping everything they've ever given us before.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, this album has to be the saddest of all. Singer Deryck Whibley said before he wrote the album in a dark time, and it definitely shows. Every track combines depression with the religious overtones prominently displayed in "Underclass Hero" their last album. The band has definitely made it work to their advantage though, as it's the lyrics that really drive home the unique sound of the album. If Whibley had simply sung about the generic mess seen in most artists' work, Screaming Bloody Murder wouldn't have been even half as impressive. In the breaks from depression found in the two punk songs mentioned above, Whibley shows it's not all gloom and doom, and he's still able to write the upbeat fist pumpers that helped launch Sum 41 in the first place. With the exception of the title track, all lyrics were written by Whibley, and it wouldn't be a stretch to call it his masterpiece.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is something you won't find from anyone else, anywhere else. With the Sums putting out some of their best material to date, the only worry should be how will they follow it up. The music is bolstering and in your face, something you can blast in your car and be proud of. There isn't a single weak track on the entire album, and none of it feels like filler. Whether you like Sum 41 or not, this album is definitely worth more than a listen. Showing it off to everyone I know, I have yet to see a single disappointed face, or even one that's been only mildly amused. Screaming Bloody Murder is a great example of how breaking the mold can work to your advantage, and create something so unique, so amazing, that it just blows everything else out of the water.