SUM 41 – Chuck

SUM 41 - Chuck


Island Deaf Jam Music Group
Release date: October 12, 2004

Guitars: C
Bass: C+
Percussion: B-
Vocals: B
Lyrics: A
Recording Quality: A-
Originality: B-
Overall Rating: B+

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

Canadian Modern/Punk Metal Rockers, Sum 41, had been working with the charity group War Child Canada, and in May of 2004 they helped in the making of a documentary that covered the effects of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sure enough, as luck would have it, fighting erupted on the fifth day of filming and the boys had to be evacuated from their hotel while bullets whizzed over their delicate fontanels. The name of the U.N. worker who evacuated them and saved their lives is Chuck Pelletier … so the band decided to name this album after him in gratitude.

Sum 41, in previous efforts, adopted more of a Punk Metal approach to their records, with an expected snotty/sarcastic lyrical stance. Chuck, though, shows the band “growing up” quite a bit. Most obvious is the musical style, which has morphed more towards Modern Metal, with Nu and Classic Metal styles periodically intermixed. Lyrically, however, is where Sum 41 particularly shines in Chuck. Many of the songs topically deal with searching for what is “real” and contemplate what will happen “in the end.” Overall, the band seems to be searching for substance and tangible reality in life, and express a melancholically bleak outlook towards intrinsic loyalty within friendships and relationships. Basically, the band foresees tough times for us all … and their message is to start getting ready for them now because when the chips are down, you’re going to end up facing your hardships alone. These messages are delivered via somewhat “fresh” language … and through very catchy choruses in virtually each of the 14 tracks of Chuck. This is definitely an album where following along with the lyrics sheet is half of the listening experience.

The cover art of the album is also particularly interesting. The band mixes pictures of war with images of innocent children, predominantly in an academic setting, fondly interacting and “learning” about various military apparatuses. Shocking, yet tasteful, and borderline genius.

On to the songs … Chuck starts out with a short intro, then really begins with “No Reason,” which is a modern Sex Pistols-ish sounding song with rapid, blended, guitar chord patterns. Its melodic and thoughtful chorus paired up with the musical mayhem is a nice blend that works remarkably well.

Next up is the radio-friendly “We’re All To Blame,” a heavy song with another top-notch chorus and the message that “Everyone wants it all … with no sacrifice.” Fourth is “Angels With Dirty Faces,” which is Sum 41’s first NuMetal influenced track. Welcomed is the exclusion of the customary NuMetal F-Bomb barrage … the band decides to keep it clean throughout the album, and the album is better off because of it.

Track five is “Some Say,” which is a great lyrics-driven song … one that feels comfortable almost immediately when you hear it, like its been played before at some time (it hasn’t). There’s less of a musical emphasis within this song, but the “be prepared to periodically fail when trying to be a responsible person” message warrants such treatment.

“The Bitter End,” as well as the last track, “88,” include some Metallica tendencies in the guitar riffing and song structure. Both, as you can surmise, are a bit more on the brutal side, and actually demonstrate Sum 41 at their musical best.

The seventh track, “Open Your Eyes,” and the ninth, “I’m Not The One,” have the most discernible NuMetal approach … more Beastie Boys than anything, but definitely NuMetal. Unfortunately, these two tracks are not nearly as impressive musically and lyrically as the others, and along with track twelve, “There’s No Solution,” represent the album’s only true “weak” spots.

“Welcome To Hell” is the tenth track, and meshes the Sex Pistols style with some impressive bass work, a la The Violent Femmes, making it the most interesting and unique track on the album. Track eleven, “Pieces,” and the bonus track, “Noots,” are both written in the Modern Rock vein, and follow the formula of combining solid guitar chord patterns with noticeably catchy choruses.

Overall, Sum 41 grew up since their last effort, and Chuck definitely speaks a different language than their CDs of the past. That’s a good thing, because this maturity translated into a helluva Modern Metal album. At the surface, this album may seem to be nothing more than average … but once you listen closely with the lyrics sheet in hand, you’ll find about 42 minutes of rare insightfulness and thoughtfulness intertwined with some healthy aggression and skillful songwriting. A good show, to say the least!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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