July 15, 2019 Sum 41 – Order in Decline (Album Review)
Once upon a time, those fat-lipped punks Sum 41 were in too deep and delivering hell to an unsuspecting world. Now older, wiser, and more technically proficient at their craft, the Canadian band return with Order in Decline. Occasionally political, always rocking, Hopeless Records delivers the band’s seventh full-length on Friday, July 19, 2019.
Considering the shelf-life of most bands these days, you can’t help but be impressed with Sum 41’s staying power and their 23-year strong career. Formed in 1996 in Ontario, Canada, the band would go on to release their debut album, the aptly-titled Pop-Punk classic, All Killer No Filler, in 2001. Pandemonium ensued, leading to over 15-million records sold worldwide, a Grammy Award nomination, 2 Juno Awards (7 nominations), a Kerrang! Award in 2002, and much, much more.
Uncompromising and honest, with no intention of slowing down, the hard rocking Sum 41—Vocalist/Guitarist Deryck Whibley, Guitarists Dave “Brownsound” Baksh and Tom Thacker, Bassist Cone McCaslin, and Drummer Frank Zummo—have opted to get personal and go heavy on their seventh studio release. Recorded in Whibley’s home studio and produced, engineered, and mixed by the multi-talented frontman, the 10-song album sees the band discussing some truly weighty topics. And while the quintet has emphatically stated that this is not a political protest record, they do offer some keen yet frustrated observations on Canadian and U.S. social and political topics.
Order in Decline opens to a misdirect of twinkling piano on “Turning Away,” which might initiate a few jump-scares when the song actually kicks in. Here, much like the music, Whibley’s vocals begin soft and grow to their characteristic punchy grit. This heralds the arrival of the bass-heavy groove of “Out For Blood.” In a world soaked in apathy, lacking in inspiration, with no leaders and only follower, is it already too late to make a change or are we all doomed? As Whibley laments our demise, Baksh delivers a truly killer guitar solo that ties together the track’s dirgey ‘80s Metal feel with the Punk attitude that this band is known for.
Changing it up, they take a more catchy approach with the radio-ready “The New Sensation,” before returning to the more headbanging facet of their sonic personality with “A Death In the Family,” which delivers the Metal in spades. A driving rocker that gets in your face, Baksh’s stellar skills are highlighted once again in another phenomenal solo.
Threatening little toe-tapper “Heads Will Roll” perfectly offsets the rage of protest anthem “45 (A Matter of Time),” an outright condemnation of the 45th president of the United States. A “total abomination,” the band don’t hold back in their loathe of a man who is merely a useless number. Interestingly, this all rolls into the heavy-hitting ballad “Never There.” An epic, emotional journey, the track delivers some heartfelt confessions from Whibley, admissions that he has grown up, forgiven his absent father, and would even welcome a chance at reconciliation.
But don’t go thinking that Sum 41 have gone soft, no. A look at our troublesome, modern times, “Eat You Alive” reignites their incendiary side with a delicious bass-heavy groove. Continuing to rock, they build phenomenal sonic tension heading into the Punk attack of “The People VS…,” about a bad man in a position of power who simply has to go. But if you think they’re going to go out with a middle finger raised, oh no: instead they return to their softer side for the emotional goodbyes of “Catching Fire.”
Generally speaking, Sum 41 do it best when they utilize their signature blend of classic Metal and attitudinous Punk to get right up on their listeners’ faces. While Order in Decline allows the band to experiment with several radio-ready offerings and a hauntingly beautiful ballad, more often than not their very best moments are when they let go of the tightly-controlled reins and just lose themselves in their roots and spit Punk rawness.
So, is Order in Decline all killer and no filler, as they say? Well, that’s for each listener to decide, but we certainly think it’s most killer when it’s heaviest. For this, Cryptic Rock give Sum 41’s Order in Decline 4 of 5 stars.
Purchase Order in Decline: