Alternative Press - "Whibley's songs are more passionate and fiery than ever....Baksh's playing style and penchant for eye-popping guitar leads gives 13 Voices a swagger and energy missing since the CHUCK days..."
Personnel: Deryck Whibley (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards); Dave Baksh, Tom Thacker (guitar); Frank Zummo (drums).
Audio Mixer: Tom Lord-Alge.
Recording information: EastWest Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Legends Studios.
Death looms large on Sum 41's sixth album, 13 Voices. Five years after Screaming Bloody Murder, the comeback arrived two years after frontman Deryck Whibley nearly died from alcohol-related liver and kidney failure. Emerging from an induced coma, he not only had to relearn how to walk, but he also had to train his hands to play guitar again. He described the process as a fall and a rise, which is documented on the bleak and intense 13 Voices. The levity found on their early releases had mostly been scrubbed away after their third record, Chuck, but here it's truly a thing of the past. 13 Voices is packed with full-blast urgency and powerful execution. The quintet -- rounded out by returning prodigal guitarist Dave "Brownsound" Baksh, his replacement Tom Thacker, bassist Jason "Cone" McCaslin, and new drummer Frank Zummo -- is hungry, anxiously so. Clocking in at less than 40 minutes of classic Sum 41 metal-meets-hardcore punk, it's a breathless ride that offers only a few moments of contemplation before going balls to the wall once more. Following the trajectory of "fall and rise," the front half of the album is grim. Whibley descends into the pits of desperation and anger, the frustration seething on tracks like "Goddamn I'm Dead Again" and "Fake My Own Death," a pair of blazing tracks that will give fans nostalgia goosebumps. The latter half of the album is the slow rise to what could be called hope, especially on the rousing trio that closes out the album. With the matured world-view, Sum 41 add some new embellishments, like strings on the determined "Breaking the Chain" and atmospheric textures on "God Save Us All (Death to POP)," "The Fall and the Rise," and "Twisted by Design," which sound a lot like Linkin Park's hardcore punk outing The Hunting Party. Above all, the yearning "War" is the emotional pinnacle of the album, a testament to Whibley's battle for sobriety and survival as well as an anthem for fans living with similar struggles. It might sound like 13 Voices is glum and no fun, but fortunately the band still has the ability to inspire joyful chaos with its five-pronged assault. Taking into account Whibley's dramatic and life-altering experiences, the hits land harder than ever, resulting in Sum 41's most honest and sincere album yet. ~ Neil Z. Yeung