The moment guitarist Dave Baksh rejoined Sum 41 in 2015, it meant one thing: lots of riffs were returning to the mix.
When the Canadian pop/punk band burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, their blend of metal-tinged punk and catchy choruses helped put them on the map, most of which delivered by Baksh on the six-string.
Despite his return, the band’s 2016 album 13 Voices wasn’t as boisterous or riffy as fans might have expected — but Sum 41’s new record, Order in Decline, is a “return to form” in that regard.
This record, led by singles like “Out for Blood,” call to mind the band’s earlier material:
While “A Death in the Family” finds them in full stride:
The album was released today, and features songs written mostly by front man/guitarist Deryck Whibley as a reaction to the world around him:
Unconsciously, Whibley saw lyrics reflecting his reactions to seeing the pervasive division, racism and hate around the world, even more so punctuated by the repulsive social and political turmoil invading his own home nations of the United States and Canada. “The last thing I wanted to do was write a social or political protest record, and Order In Decline is not that,” Whibley clarifies. Instead, Order in Decline is a burst of uninhibited feeling, a page out of his journal, a window into his soul that reflects on extremely personal and vulnerable events, because as he confesses, “It’s also very hard not to have feelings about everything that’s going on in the world.”
That explains the track “45 (A Matter of Time),” which sounds topical lyrically and features some of the album’s most engaging guitar work:
Other highlights include “Heads Will Roll” and its steady rhythm, the riff barrages of “Eat You Alive” and “The People Vs …,” the latter of which somehow finds a way to call to mind both Iron Maiden (in its guitars) and Linkin Park (an extended vocal part in the chorus).
“Never There,” meanwhile, could definitely be another crossover for the band with its emotional delivery and memorable hook. It’s not a loud, fast anthem, but it’s easy to see folks taking a liking to it:
The same goes for “Catching Fire,” which closes out the album. This song almost sounds like current-era Green Day, as Whibley’s delivery sounds like what Billie Joe Armstrong could pull off if he wanted to. Another slower number, this one boasts one of the album’s catchiest choruses:
With Order in Decline, Sum 41 have added a pretty solid late-era album to their catalog, arguably the most complete, cohesive collection of songs since 2004’s Chuck. They’ve always been an intriguing band for those interested in pop/punk and metal, and there are a handful of songs on there that are some of the most engaging they’ve put to record in a while.
Stream Order in Decline below, via Spotify: