After the redeeming nature of 2016's 13 Voices, Sum 41 have been back on track in a happy and healthy way. The latest installation in their catalogue opens with Turning Away, introducing the further expansion on the mature new sound. Trem effects on the guitars and melodic vocals give way to a crashing instrumental, building to a chorus very reminiscent of their modern style. The addition of a shredding solo may come as a surprise to any fans from the turn of the millennium who have slept on the band since; extensive displays of skill have taken over from the juvenile punk energy of the early days.
First single Out For Blood follows up, bringing the central themes of societal issues to the centre with the lyrics 'all that we have is just slipping away' and 'you can't stop the bleeding, it's almost too late' conveying frontman Deryck Whibley's feelings all too well. The initial impressions of the album are solidified here too, with a huge downtuned riff and sweeping solo taking control of the audiospace.
Other elements of the album hint Sum 41 have crossed the big divide - A Death In The Family has riffs straight from a thrash metal catalogue and semi-screams that keep the vocal cutting through the chunky octave chords. The cleaner instrumental sections leave space for Whibley's range to shine with a lot more clarity. 45 (A Matter of Time)'s single string 16th picking and beat rests leave a powerful mark musically as possibly the hardest-hitting track they have ever released. The progression is clear to see, and it has worked wonders yet again.
Vocally, this record is on a par with 13 Voices in terms of performance but the writing allows the vocals to push to be the top priority again following the instrumental importance of the previous record. Guitar work is where this album really shines through however, with the fast and technical solos working with the grain of the lyrical content to produce an emotive experience and gravity to the message.
Overall, a fantastic album that builds well on 2016's rebirth and dramatic change in style. After the success of the last album, do not sleep on this one - it'll get seriously big very quickly.