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The Evolution Of Sum 41

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 24 June 2019 at 12.48

Over their near 20 year career, Sum 41 have been through it all - and their music reflects that. Here is how their sound and vision has adapted over their 6 brilliant albums. 


By name and by nature, Sum 41’s debut offering still stands up as one of most triumphant and tantalizing albums that pop-punk has conjured over the years. Never taking itself too seriously, but still not letting their lust for life get in the way of their songwriting, the band tear through 13 slices of ferocious and fret-mangling noise that captured not just the attention of the scene but also of the mainstream. With the likes of ‘Fat Lip’, ‘In Too Deep’, ‘Handle This’ and ‘Motivation’ in its ranks, this is a benchmark for bands even now.

Released only a year after their debut, ‘Does This Look Infected?’ was the sound of Sum 41 sticking a middle finger up at the world they had found themselves in. Going against the grain and what was ultimately expected of them, ‘…Infected’ pulsed with punk-rock attitude and snotty intentions. ‘The Hell Song’ feels like bile being poured into your ears, ‘Still Waiting’ barks at you with raw spitefulness and ‘My Direction’ is a near perfect slice of punk. All in all, this was the sound of a band showing that they wouldn’t be placed in any sort of box by any sort of person, and their music was all the better for it.

'CHUCK' (2004)
After the aggressive nature of the last record, ‘Chuck’ found the band being more introspective and thoughtful than ever before. Slowing things down in some places, such as on the emotionally crippling ‘Pieces’, and in others heavier than ever before, such as on the powerful ‘The Bitter End’, this was the Sum of 41 moving into new pastures that they hadn’t treaded in before and feeling more than at home. The darker mood to the songs would be a hint at where things would go moving forwards, but it was a change that kept them from falling into the pit of obscurity that so many bands from this period of pop-punk found themselves in.

Three years on from ‘Chuck’ and the band were angrier than ever. Taking aim at everything from governmental corruption to their own upbringings, ‘Underclass Hero’ features some of the most experimental and densely layered songs ever penned by the band. From the title track’s euphoric call to arms to the all-consuming ‘Speak Of The Devil’ through to the twisted majesty of ‘The Jester’ and heartfelt balladry of ‘With You’, this was a far cry from the band that broke out back in 2001 but still expelled the same levels of energy and vibrancy.

Treading the same path of ‘Underclass Hero’ but painting this a few shades darker, ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’ is possibly the band’s most devilish offering. Originally billed as an EP in 2008 but undertaking plenty of changes over the course of the next three years, the resulting tracks showed off the ongoing maturity in the band’s songwriting but also their deeper need for creating music that reflects their disillusionment with the world around them. Hell, ‘Blood In My Eyes’ was so good it was nominated for a Grammy.

'13 VOICES' (2017)
Harking back to the early sound of the band and featuring the return of orginal guitarist Dave Baksh and introduction of drummer Frank Zummo, this was classic Sum 41 through and through. Fast paced, cheeky and jam packed with the sort of riffs that make mosh pits tick, the band were having fun making music again after the darkness that was coated on ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’. ‘Goddamn, I’m Dead Again’ is as chaotic as they come while ‘Fake My Own Death’ is as pure pop-punk as you are going to find anywhere. Sometimes taking things back to where you started can help you to move forward, and that is exactly what Sum 41 did here. 

Which brings us up to the modern day, and Sum 41 are about to release their brand new album 'Order In Decline' on July 19.

'Order In Decline' is available on cassette RIGHT NOW exclusively from Rock Sound Records! Get your copy below:


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