Sound — 8
The first thing I thought when hearing the build up that constitutes the first minute or so of the album was: "This isn't the same band that recorded In Too Deep" This I feel is one thing that any listener needs to keep in mind when listening to this album. For better or for worse Sum 41 have grown up a bit. Since most of the members are now in their 30's it makes sense for the band to evolve. It'd be foolish to assume that someone could right party songs all their lives. So now we know what the album isn't, what is it? Eclectic if you like that kind of thing and a mess if you don't. Sum 41 have taken a similar route to perhaps My Chemical Romance. They've matured the sound, adding elements such as pianos mixed with a minor feel in many songs. Scoff at the MCR parallel if you will, but it's true (at times the bands even sound slightly similar). The album shifts style a lot, sometimes at break neck speed between styles and tempo's, at times leaving the listener with Auditory Whiplash. Some may enjoy this, but to most this will leave a slightly unpleasent feeling in the gut. There are some tracks that stand out over others, "Jessica Kill" and "Screaming Bloody Murder" perhaps being the two best after a couple of listens with a few more plays. This album is much darker and more "grown up" than Sum 41's efforts. It's a good effort at this sound and works well. But anyone expecting another "Chuck" or "All Killer, No Filler" will be sorely disappointed. Taken on it's own merit however, the sound is pretty damn good.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are similarly effect by Sum 41's shift in tone. The lyrics are perhaps best described as 'heart on the sleeve'. Emotional and often dealing with love gone wrong in some context (possibly influenced by lead singer Deryck Whibley's recent split from Rock Princess Avril Lavigne). Even if you enjoy this kinda thing the lyrics easily come across as derivative, and when almost every track is on the same theme, it get's pretty boring pretty quickly. One plus however is Deryck's voice. Unlike the almost rapped vocals from albums gone by in "Screaming..." we find his voice to be engaging and believable. So if nothing else, Daryck's delivery saves the lyrics from becoming hopelessly samey; just slightly samey.
Overall Impression — 7
I think the main thing to be said for "Screaming..." is that it's different. If you come into this album hoping for a return to the old days then I wouldn't bother. If you like emotionally charged rock that has that hint of epic grandiosity, but doesn't go completely over board, then you will very likely enjoy this album (think The Black Parade but toned down a tad). It's all a matter of taste.