Article by Andrés Alvarado
It is a brand new day in the trajectory of Sum 41. With the release of their seventh LP, Order In Decline, the Deryck Whibley-led troupe is projecting that they are no longer those charismatic kids from their early ’00s heyday. No, not anymore. Now, the Canadian punk rockers are men of conviction with plenty to say, plenty to play, and all with a fuck-your-feelings sense of delivery.
For all the ups and downs of the Sum 41 timeline, their base has remained loyal throughout. If you have ever attended a Sum 41 concert, you could attest to that. Nonetheless, it has been over a decade since the Ontario quintet unleashed anything of substance and of a head-turning effect. Alas, Order In Decline may just be the right to fix what has been ailing Sum 41 for way too long. The latest offering runs chock full of heavy riffs, slightly above-average punchy vocals and, more importantly, at a loss of that tween mentality associated to the ghost of Sum 41 past. This is Sum 41 reinvented, this is Sum 41 ripping free of that underdog to Blink 182 reputation, this is Sum 41 at their new best.
The first impression rendered from Order In Decline is that Sum 41 has shed the pop in pop-punk, for the most part. The band carries a new and heavier approach to riffing and jamming. Strings take to the audible forefront and punk-metal is more the flavor of the day. On the lyrical side, punchy and poignant themes runs deep — the album oozes in that political backlash the Liberal side flings at Conservative America nowadays.
Leading Order In Decline is the straightforwardly ripping “45 (A Matter Of Time)” and its anti-Trump gusto. The 41 boys run a no-holds-barred tirade against the sitting U.S. president in head-banging style. The number is a forceful adrenaline-pumping kind of banger that emphatically flips a middle finger at the establishment of the Trump presidency.
Among the better anthems found within Order In Decline are “Heads Will Roll” with its bouncy and catchy riffs, the classic punk roots tied to “The People Vs,” the attractive authoritative rhythm behind “The New Sensation,” and the string-heavy scream-rock hues of “Out For Blood” and “A Death In The Family.”
As surprising as Order In Decline is, the record does contain certain whoppers within. Singles “Never There” and “Catching Fire” are completely off brand with the rest of the record. As Order In Decline excels in its bravado and potent virtuosity, it does get notched down a tad when it breaks off formula and caters to the softness of “Never There” and “Catching Fire.” Additionally, the offering suffers from a lyrical volatility that at moments comes off as rebellious and cool, while at others resonates as cliche and dated — as with the cases with “Heads Will Roll” and “Turning Away” respectively.
All said and done, Sum 41 has caught us collectively off guard with Order In Decline (and that is a fantastic feeling). The band was considered irrelevant and discarded for quite some time, and just like that, they have clawed their way back onto our playlists and given us a sense of hope and nostalgia. Order In Decline may be their last great record or might be the beginning of a new and exciting Sum 41. Either way, this is simply an enjoyable and noteworthy effort that deserves your undivided attention. Well done, Sum 41. Well done.
Album Score: 7.5/10 — Key Tracks: Heads Will Roll, The People Vs, 45 (A Matter of Time), and The New Sensation.