Friday, December 16, 2016

REVIEW: SUM 41'S "DOES THIS LOOK INFECTED?"

Does This Look Infected? is the third full-length album from punk veterans Sum 41. Serving as the follow-up to 2001’s All Killer, No Filler (an album I reviewed back in September), Infected builds upon the foundations of the previous album set and explores some new, darker territory. How does it hold up compared to the band’s major-label breakthrough?

The Content:

Does This Look Infected? does fantastically expands upon its predecessor’s work in a lot of ways.

The guitars in Infected shine through more than they could’ve in Killer, and it shows through hit tracks like The Hell Song. Featuring one of the band’s best solos in its bridge, The Hell Song doesn’t beat around the bush in getting to the point of what Infected’s tone will sound like throughout the album: grungy, yet familiar with other punk stylings of the day.

All comparisons to the previous album aside, the album feels unique within the punk threshold it taps into. The brief interlude found in the crude A.N.I.C. is about as bold and brash as the band’s ever been, whereas Still Waiting (one of the album’s highlights) introduces the band and its fanbase to some new, heavier riffs not found on their previous albums. Mr. Amsterdam, another track on the back-half of the album, ventures into metal territory not unlike Slayer (a noted influence on the band).

As punk and metal as Infected can be, it sometimes hesitates to stray from the band’s pop-punk roots. Tracks like My Direction and All Messed Up, though lyrically dark, feel awkwardly sandwiched between the album’s heavier tracks: My Direction comes just before Still Waiting, as does All Messed Up before Mr. Amsterdam. These two tracks stand out in negative comparison for sounding lighter than their Infected counterparts, and while they’re decent songs in their own right they would’ve made for a better fit on All Killer, No Filler.

Looking at the natural evolution between albums, Infected represents the jump in maturity from the sound that originally made Sum 41 huge. Though change in sound is expected of any artist, for Sum 41 Infected is their first major step toward their current sound: a hint of metal, some touches of grunge, but loads and loads of all-around punk.

The Impact:

While Infected wasn’t the success that the band’s previous album, All Killer, No Filler, would go on to become, the band’s 2002 album still made waves within the Su
m 41 fanbase in addition to mainstream radio.

Infected showcased the band’s more hardcore stylings, abandoning the pop-punk overtures that originally brought them to fame. While the album still has touches of pop-punk in some tracks on the album, Infected would prove to be a stepping stone to even darker albums, most notably 2004’s Chuck. Said frontman Deryck Whibley on the stylistic change in between the two albums, “A lot of stuff happened in the past year that opened our eyes to new things."

As a result of the blending of the two musical styles, fans often consider Infected to be one of the band’s best albums. Whibley himself ranked Infected as his third favorite Sum 41 album in an interview with Vice, citing it as the sound he desired from Sum 41 despite mixing and production disappointments.

Three singles from the album – Still Waiting, The Hell Song, and Over My Head (Better Off Dead) were released. The first two singles particularly success, and are to this day considered some of the fanbase’s favorites. Does This Look Infected? would go on to sell nearly one million copies worldwide, as well as peak at #32 on the US Billboard 200.

The Future:

Sum 41’s latest album, 13 Voices, released in October of 2016. It is the first album in five years from the band, serving as a follow-up to 2011’s Screaming Bloody Murder. To support the album, the band embarked on the Warped Tour in 2016, followed by the Don’t Call It A Sum-Back Tour later that year. The tour is set to make stops in Europe throughout 2017.

13 Voices is the first Sum 41 album since 2004’s Chuck to feature founding guitarist Dave ‘Brownsound’ Baksh, and the first Sum 41 album without founding drummer Steve ‘Stevo32’ Jocz, who left the band in 2013.


Next week’s review: Radiohead’s “Pablo Honey”

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