Denial: “no way AMG is running this.” Anger: “Diabolus is torpedoing his metal cred again, what an idiot!” Bargaining: “come on, just write about Alestorm or Sulphur Aeon again!” Depression: “this makes me feel as happy as the White Wizzard debacle; Diabolus may just be [REDACTED] for this.” Acceptance: “okay, I’ll see what he has to say about the new Sum 41 record.” Now that we’re through all that, let’s take a look at 13 Voices, an quality album from a band who’s never made a bad one and hails from my home province of Ontario.

Being commonly lumped in with pop-punk, Sum 41 has justifiably been ignored by the vast majority of metalheads. While I’ve yet to find anyone my age that doesn’t have a soft spot for “Fat Lip” and “The Hell Song,” the goodwill often stops there. Yes, 13 Voices definitely has a modern-ish punk influence (read: a whole bunch of hooks), but it’s abundantly clear that this stuff is being played by musicians who know and love their fair share of metal. Remarkably, Sum 41 have once again found the sweet spot where fans of pop and rock can get into the tunes and unpretentious metalheads can have a good time listening to something fun, energetic, and with enough reference points to their chosen genre that it’s hard to dislike what’s going on.

Opening 13 Voices with soft electric guitars and well-executed strings, “A Murder of Crows” kicks things off by building tension for three minutes while being a memorable highlight in its own right. When things kick into high gear with “Goddamn, I’m Dead Again,” Sum 41 sounds downright hungry. Original guitarist Dave Baksh shows he’s back with a vengeance, ripping out a ninety second solo section that evokes the best of Sum 41, Metallica, and even “Hotel California” and ended up as one of my favorite solos of the year.

There’s much more goodness to be had than just the opening salvo. “War” is 13 Voices’s emotional peak, musically and lyrically painting a picture of a quiet resilience, one that’s measured and a bit vulnerable instead of brash and braggadocios; it’s the sound of wounds being cleaned in preparation to get back into the fray again. “God Save Us All (Death to POP)” follows immediately after, and its slick hard rock riffing with a subtle metal edge pairs well with the lyrics, which make good on the promise to persevere against the odds detailed in “War.”

There’s not a single song I dislike on 13 Voices. Sum 41 have done a great job here on their latest comeback, and while I went in with trepidation and caution I emerged, twenty listens later, with one of my favorite records of the year. I’m not asking anyone to agree with me on this, but I am suggesting that you give it a shot. Worst case scenario, you’ll be amused by one of the most bizarrely entertaining music videos of the year.

Tracks to Check Out: “Goddamn, I’m Dead Again,” “God Save Us All (Death to POP),” “War”

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  • Report to HR for [REDACTED].

  • Dethjesta

    You know what Diablolus, I will give it a try. I’ll report back with my findings.

    In my book it’s been a good year for Canadian metal, after all

    • Dethjesta

      My verdict: It sounds much like Sum 41 always have, Fast, Angsty, Catchy.

      • Rasmus Steinke

        That Anti-Pop song was one of the cringiest moments in 2016….

  • William Wallace level bravery, I hope they let you pick your own torture. ?

    • SlapDatAss

      LOL You sir, have made my day.

  • Paul Stella II
  • Cyrill Krasilnikov

    Well, as Alban Berg told George Gershwin: “Music is music”. I guess it applies here as well.

    • basenjibrian

      Given this philosophy, I (once again) demand a review of Bieber.

  • walk_among_us

    Check out Dave Baksh’s other metally punk band, Black Cat Attack.

  • RuySan

    I really liked pop-punk when this guys got famous in the late 90’s, and even then, they were crap as a pop-punk band. Why would I want to listen to this instead of Lagwagon, No Use for A Name or The Get Up Kids?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Trve pop-punk people exist?! This makes me unreasonably happy.

      • Rayromono.

        The Get Up Kids aren’t trve! The Get Up Kids are like Dimmu Borgir or something. Propagandhi, Mr. t Experience, Lillingtons…that’s trve.

        • jersey devil

          Propagandhi–hell yes. I forgot about them. Great band. Killer songs and lyrics. That’s a heavy punk band. I would add old Rise Against (first 4 albums), and No Innocent Victim to your trve list.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I was going to make a comment about pop-punk elitism but couldn’t find a way to make it funny instead of offensive…

  • Mr T

    This is radio music.

    • GardensTale

      Which is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, numerous great rock classics are also radio music.

  • Norfair Legend

    Growing up on Naked Raygun, Life Sentence, Bl’ast, Misfits…I never like Sum 41 as I thought they, along with the others of their time were fake garbage. Maybe I’ve become softer and grown out of my trve self a little bit but I really liked the song you have posted and will now go listen to the rest of the album. Who knows, may even result in a purchase.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Life Sentence, oh yes.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Your old self is right

  • Piet

    Finally someone else who has a soft spot for these guys. While I dislike “War”, I quite like “Fake my Own Death” and “God Save Us All” is also decent. It’s definitely not my favorite Sum41 album but a good effort nonetheless.

  • Wilhelm

    I would rather have missed this.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Don’t worry, there’s still time to miss it this year!

  • GardensTale

    Ahh, the yearly unofficial Indefensible Positions.

  • Excentric_13073

    … Speechless.

  • How old are these guys? Steel’s age? I dunno steel, you still whining about your parents?

    • I whine about taxes, regulations and the lack of a new Jorn album.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Im shocked I always thought that a Viking gorilla lawyer’s favourite things would, asides from Jorn cover albums include regulations and luxuriant backhair.

        • Berit Dogg

          It’s the lack of backhair that he’s whining about, surely. All is still well in the world.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I’m not sure if you’re whining about having or lacking back hair. Which in your case should be silver back hair, right?

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I got this on a sweet playlist with Stomp 442, Chinese Democracy and Sheryl Crowe’s greatest hits

  • DrChocolate

    I’m ok with this. I’ll stand up with Diabolus and say I like Sum 41. I haven’t followed them extensively, but they know how to write a hook (why are metal fans so chesty-negative about hooks? Has any one ever heard ‘Run to the Hills’?) and a catchy riff. I find no fault in that. I like the diversification.

    • GardensTale

      I fucking love a good hook. Clutch is one of my favorite bands and hooks are totally their thing. This is a bit too emo for me but it’s catchy alright, I’ll give them that.

  • manimal

    I assume this review will not be cross-posted on Angry Black Metal Elitist.

  • Alexandre Barata

    Gotta leave this here: Not impressed. Makes me remember about what The Temple were doing 12 years ago, and I prefered it then.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    This might be good. Or not. But there’s no doubt this is not Metal.

    • More like emo alt rock IMO. Not awful though…

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I’m not sure if emo alt rock can be “not awful” ;)

  • One More Thing

    I cannot believe this got mentioned. I love this band and I agree about them not having produced a bad record. They’ve managed to keep some metal-ish attitude in their sound ever since “Chuck” and this new one definitely doesn’t disappoint. Nice write-up!

  • dedseed1

    Cheers, Diabolus, for posting about a band you dig regardless of genre. Good review.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Haven’t heard these fellas since the “All Killer” days. I’ll try to remember to check this out.

  • Not impressed by the embedded track at all. It sounds like an angry Good Charlotte with a chorus stolen from Linkin Park.

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    As a fan of Hell Song I had to see this. Not as good, but still ok.

  • OMG!! SUM 41 on Angry Metal Guy site.
    They have very good albums and “metal pop punk?” good songs. Check out the first two tracks on “CHUCK” album.

  • MastersApprentice

    At the risk of angering the purist metal-heads of the AMG community and against my better judgement….I’m going to be moderately positive about Sum 41.

    I remember when this band exploded in the early 2000’s, you literally couldn’t escape them if you watched KERRANG! or any of the other rock/metal channels on Cable-TV.

    Whilst the punk element of their sound really isn’t for me, i’ll always respect them as “the punk band that occassionally sounded like Metallica”. I don’t recall any other punk bands at the time peppering their songs with the odd thrash riff or solo or frankly taking any risks at all.

    In times where everything has already been done before it’s sometimes refreshing to hear bands that go against the grain.

    That’s why I love Metal.

    • Syn

      Yeah, I kind of agree. Although I always though the could do so much more!

  • Syn

    I never listened to them all that much, but I do quite like a few songs. I always thought that they were more talented than the music they actually played. Especially Dave; there were those (sadly all too rare) moments when he used to knock out awesome riffs that made me wish they used them much more. They could have been a solid punk-metal band :D

  • Dead1

    I like Mumford and Sons. Maybe you should review them? Oh and a retrospective review of Amy Winehouse Back To Black (great album).

    Coz apparently anything is metal if you squint hard enough!