To celebrate the release of Sum 41’s album Order In Decline, I decided to rank all seven of their studio albums from worst to best! I’ve not included live albums, compilations or Half Hour of Power. This is the first ‘ranked’ article by AS4S and it was a lot of fun to write! If you enjoy this article, you can also see my ranking of Blink-182 albums here.
7. Screaming Bloody Murder
The Screaming Bloody Murder era was a dark time for lead singer Deryck Whibley, and is made evident in an unofficial YouTube film which documents the band’s recording process for the album. Deryck had recently divorced fellow Canadian punk rocker Avril Lavigne before writing Screaming Bloody Murder, and it seems that this was not only inspiration for the album but part of the reason Deryck ended up with a serious alcohol addiction. Screaming Bloody Murder sees Sum 41 at their most ‘pure and simple’ Rock’n’Roll, with a return to their aggressive form, grittier vocals, and a lot to sing about. Having watched the YouTube film of the recording process, it’s astonishing they managed to produce an album at all, but I’m sure there are plenty of rock bands who have finished an album in greater chaos. Screaming Bloody Murder may be last in the ranking, but it’s not a bad album. It has some fantastic tracks and shouldn’t be written off. That being said, it’s also not Sum 41 at their strongest and for me there are too many fillers for it to be higher up on the list.
Release date: March 29, 2011
Top tracks: Reason to Believe, Screaming Bloody Murder, Crash
6. 13 Voices
The ‘comeback album’. Deryck’s alcohol addiction during the Screaming Bloody Murder cycle eventually led to him being hospitalised and advised that one more drop of alcohol could finish him off. Deryck spent a couple of years recovering, and this wake-up call gave him a new lease of life, both personally and creatively. He has said in interviews that he was happy, healthy, and 100% focused on the music whilst writing 13 Voices. Original drummer Steve Jocz unfortunately left the band while they were still touring in 2013, after what is thought to be a falling out with Deryck, but Frank Zummo proved himself as a credible replacement on 13 Voices. Legendary lead guitarist Dave Baksh also rejoined the band and so, with guitarist Tom thrown into the mix too, Sum 41 were back to their best at the start of this new era! 13 Voices is a perfect blend of punchy rock and catchy chorus’, both strengths for the band throughout their career. The album has a few slightly underwhelming and familiar-sounding tracks, but it also has some of Sum 41’s best tracks to date too. 13 Voices showed the world that Sum 41 is far from finished, that they’re working well together again and most importantly creating the music they want to create.
Release date: October 7, 2016
Top tracks: Goddamn I’m Dead Again, Fake My Own Death, War
5. Underclass Hero
Underclass Hero is actually the first Sum 41 album to be released after I started listening to them, and I spent a lot, I mean a lot of time listening to this album. When you listen to the direction Sum 41 were going in prior to Underclass Hero, there is no denying that this album feels like a step back for the band in terms of creativity and sound, but there are some fantastic tracks on Underclass Hero and the production is top notch too. Sum 41 wrote Underclass Hero as a three-piece following the shock departure of lead guitarist Dave Baksh in 2006, so the softer sound and lack of solos and riffs is expected in the absence of Brownsound’s influence. The album is not a classic, but it’s good. It got a lot of stick which I personally feel is undeserved. It’s also worth noting that, while the charts aren’t always an accurate reflection of the best music around, Underclass Hero is Sum 41’s best performing record in the US charts, and I think the strong singles and softer sound is responsible for that. Maybe the success of Chuck can be thanked too. For a bit of fun I would recommend listening to the Underclass Hero chorus in its original form on Youtube, under the name Subject to Change!
Release date: July 24, 2007
Top tracks: Underclass Hero, Speak of the Devil, Pull the Curtain
4. Order In Decline
I was really torn between putting this 4th or 5th, but having given this album another listen eight months after its release, I’ve quickly remembered just how much I like it! Order In Decline is quite similar in style to 13 Voices, but with a couple of years back on the scene under their belt since their return, you can tell Deryck and the band are writing and performing more confidently. Their is definite angst in Order In Decline, and this can be thanked in part due to the political divide in the US with Donald Trump in the White House, which Dercyk admitted in an interview he tried to resist writing about. Order In Decline continues on from 13 Voices with the classic Sum 41 sound layered with heavier riffs, and a fantastic ballad, Never There, snuck in towards the end. The stand out moments for me though are Dave’s solos. Great stuff.
Release date: July 19, 2019
Top tracks: Order In Decline, Never There, Heads Will Roll
3. All Killer, No Filler
Sum 41’s debut album All Killer, No Filler skyrocketed the band to mainstream success upon its release and features their two most popular tracks to date, Fat Lip and In Too Deep. It perfectly encapsulates the early-noughties pop-punk scene at its peak, and is one of the great albums of this era. All Killer is the first and last pop-punk record released by Sum 41 (other than perhaps Underclass Hero), but I admire them for recognising that this album is still loved by fans despite the band going down a different, heavier path in more recent albums. This album is a consistent, solid collection of pop-punk tracks that doesn’t just rely on the singles, and to me actually brings to the table something slightly edgier than the traditional pop-punk sound of the time. The album also mixes things up at the end with Pain for Pleasure, a track by Sum 41’s goofy, heavy metal alter-ego band of the same name, fronted by former drummer Steve-O. Overall, this is a very decent, accurately titled album!
Release date: May 8, 2001
Top tracks: Handle This, Heart Attack, Motivation
2. Does This Look Infected?
It would have been easy for Sum 41 to repeat the same formula after the success of All Killer, No Filler, but they decided to crank it up a notch and go a bit heavier with their follow-up album Does This Look Infected?, and I’m glad they did! There are so many great riffs and solos on this album – Over My Head, Mr Amsterdam and Hell Song just to name a few – and there is still plenty of the catchy Sum 41 we know and love too. There are elements of pop-punk floating about with My Direction and All Messed Up, but from start to finish every track is great and really shows the band progressing to new heights musically. Does This Look Infected? is probably Sum 41 at their most ‘Sum 41’, if that’s fair to say, and was quite rightly honoured with a 15th anniversary tour earlier this year.
Release date: November 26, 2002
Top tracks: Mr Amsterdam, Hooch, No Brains
Most bands have their defining album. An album in a class of its own that ticks every box and is unstoppable from start to finish. AC/DC’s Back In Black, Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. For Sum 41, in my opinion that album is Chuck. Chuck lets rip the best qualities of the band, shows great maturity and still remains, as ever with Sum 41, catchy. It’s the heaviest album in Sum 41’s catalogue yet also shows a completely different side to the band for the first time with heartfelt ballads Pieces and Slipping Away. Every track is a winner and I didn’t doubt for a second that Chuck was going to top my list of favourite Sum 41 albums. The album title has an interesting backstory too. Whilst visiting the Congo to film a documentary for War Child Canada, the band were caught in dangerous crossfire and trapped in their hotel, but eventually were saved by a U.N peacekeeper called Chuck. Fantastic album and a deserved winner.
Release date: October 12, 2004
Top tracks: No Reason, The Bitter End, 88
There we have it. All seven Sum 41 albums ranked worst to best. This is of course just my opinion though – leave a comment below and let me know what your favourite is!
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