I have never been much of a pop punk fan, finding it too lightweight and throwaway. My exceptions to this being Green Day and Sum 41, the latter mainly fuelled by nostalgia for their 2001 debut hit singles ‘Into Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’, and not forgetting their best song ‘Pain For Pleasure’. Eighteen years later (bloody hell) and all the attendant band member comings and goings, troubled marriages, alcohol, drugs and bouts in hospital later comes their seventh record Order In Decline.
This is their heaviest album yet and happily their least pop punk, it is 2019 and guitarist cum lead singer Deryck Whibley is peeved at the state of American politics. Single ‘Out For Blood’ is a frenetic blast of punk imbued metal with angry lyrics and a rip roaring solo courtesy of Dave Baksh. Over in a flash, ‘The People Vs…’ is another relentless bundle of frenzied riffing, soloing and drumming with an ever so slight anti-Trump vibe. “You’re something to few, you’re nothing to me” Deryck spits in ‘45 (A Matter of Time)’ alongside a metallic, chug-along riff and a big chorus.
As you listen to the galloping heaviness yet keen melody of ‘A Death In The Family’ it is almost unbelievable to think that these are the same cheeky chappies who bounded about in their three quarter lengths aggrieved about ‘Motivation’. They even managed to make a Muse-esque track in ‘The New Sensation’, a message of resistance brought to you with a high sense of urgency and melodrama. It is not all heavy guitars and pounding drums as ballads ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Never There’ show. The latter, the pick of the two, is about his mum and absentee Dad and fuelled by plaintive piano and acoustic guitar, which gives way to a classic rock style solo midway.
In what may be the surprise of the year, Sum 41’s latest is a splendidly venomous mix of politically charged hard rock and metal with their knack for a catchy hook still intact.