ARTIST: SUM 41

TITLE: ORDER IN DECLINE

LABEL: HOPELESS RECORDS

RATING: 9/10

WORDS: JO COSGROVE

The key to keeping fresh as a pop-punk band beyond the 2000s is change. Developing, growing, maturing. Sometimes it can be surprising when realising how long some of these bands have been working together, and how they were originally established as those small-time outfits hopping around the makeshift stage of a skate park, commanding the crowd before them to scream and sing and mosh til they drop (almost literally). One of these bands are Canada’s own Sum 41, who have been making waves in this small fun-loving corner of the music world for over twenty years now and in all honesty, have fallen off the map for most fans beyond ‘All Killer No Filler‘. But that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped.

The five-piece have been working hard throughout the 2010s, trying to recapture what they once had as loose-cannon youths wailing on guitars and shouting profanities into their microphones. To many, it may seem that they’re just a thing of the past; left behind in the heyday of pure pop-punk. Some may believe that to this day, but one listen to their 2019 summer release ‘Order in Decline‘ and it’ll become crystal clear that they haven’t been left behind. They’re not even trailing behind. They’re keeping up with a new yet familiar sound, and it’s on its way to taking over.

“they haven’t been left behind. They’re not even trailing behind. They’re keeping up with a new yet familiar sound, and it’s on its way to taking over. “

The first single from the record, ‘Out For Blood’, was many listeners’ first introduction to this new era of Sum 41, and it made such an outstanding first impression. Recognisable by sound, but still feeling brand new for the band, it takes elements from the heavier side of the rock scale. Taking influence from metal counterparts, the band experiments with distorted and faded vocals from frontman Deryck Whibley, and the peak of the track is the truthfully epic guitar solo that sets up for the song’s bridge. The calm before the storm, as it ends on such a fantastic and energetic note. A more than suitable choice for a single, simply for being an ideal representation of what the album has in store: honesty, heart, and an outpouring of the human soul. In punk form.

The album’s very beginning is one that’s guaranteed to get the blood pumping and the heads spinning. ‘Turning Away’ is a story of owning oneself and living the best life possible, the lyrics come across powerful and as per their tales, every word is owned and used to the fullest of its potential to strike the confidence in the weakest listener. And this confidence is maintained throughout as more and more stories from the hidden life of these talented dudes are told with no covers, no concealment, no shying away.

“an unexpectedly fascinating record, and is a testament to anyone who cast doubt on Sum 41’s ability to evolve and keep up with the times.”

The strength that’s built up becomes necessary when the album reaches its conclusion: the heart-wrenching ballad, ‘Catching Fire’. The most heartbreaking tale to be told throughout ‘Order in Decline‘, it can take the place as this generation’s ‘Adam’s Song’. Telling a tale of losing the fight with mental illness, and looking back on how it was handled and if more action could have been taken, it hits hard for those who have suffered and those who have watched a sufferer take their shamed, stigmatised misery to the grave; even the toughest of punk dudes will be weeping tears to this one.

Order in Decline‘ is an unexpectedly fascinating record, and is a testament to anyone who cast doubt on Sum 41’s ability to evolve and keep up with the times. From giving no shits to caring about all human beings, this is the greatest character development of 2019.

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