SUM 41

Heaven :x: Hell

rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Waiting on a Twist of Fate
02. Landmines
03. I Can't Wait
04. Time Won't Wait
05. Future Primitive
06. Dopamine
07. Not Quite Myself
08. Bad Mistake
09. Johnny Libertine
10. Radio Silence
01. Preparasi A Salire
02. Rise Up
03. Stranger In These Times
04. I Don't Need Anyone
05. Over the Edge
06. House of Liars
07. You Wanted War
08. Paint It Black
09. It's All Me
10. How The End Begins

SUM 41 seem perpetually young, but the band is already calling it a day. It might seem premature, considering classic bands such as THE ROLLING STONES and AC/DC are still touring and making music, however, the Canadian pop-punk band is saying farewell after 27 years with a final tour and double-album, "Heaven :x: Hell".

If you think SUM 41 are strictly a pop-punk band, think again. "Heaven :x: Hell" shows that the band is shedding its pure pop image. "Heaven" features the kind of high-octane, pop-punk for which SUM 41 are known, while "Hell" offers 10 tracks of heavier music, with guitar solos and swelling riffs.

Early singles "Rise Up" and "Landmines" foreshadowed this double set. "Landmines" sounds like it could have been SUM 41's debut single. The song features super upbeat, choppy riffing and catchy, poppy vocals from Deryck Whibley. Meanwhile, "Rise Up" is a heavier number and makes room for a feracious guitar solo.

Listening to "Heaven", it plays like the kind of album you would expect to hear from SUM 41, with chaotic guitars, power chords and melodic pop-punk vocals. "Heaven" doesn't bring anything new, but it instead celebrates SUM 41's legacy and history as a band. It's actually the perfect final record, as it brings one last musical blast from the past.

"Heaven" opening track "Waiting On A Twist Of Fate" is an early favorite, with a crashing, anthemic chorus that recalls the best of early 2000's pop-punk. Vocally, Whibley is as high energy as ever, with frantic, chanty vocals in the verses and his trademark whiney vocals in the chorus. Elsewhere, "I Can't Wait" is a party in a song, and although the lyrics are about hating on someone in Whibley's life, the vibe of the track is upbeat and very punky. "Not Quite Myself" is closer to a ballad, with Whibley singing about not feeling quite, well, like himself. "Radio Silence" closes out the album with a beautiful, heartfelt anthem about missing someone you love.

"Hell", in contrast, shows off a new, fairly unheard side of SUM 41. That said, while the guitars and soloing are heavier here, it's a stretch to call this a full-out heavy metal album. "Stranger in These Times" and "I Don't Need Anyone" showcase thick riffing, while "Over the Edge" offers a heavier vocal delivery, with Whibley screaming throughout. "How the End Begins" is a perfect title for a final song. It begins with distant guitars and leads into a moving ballad about Whibley's deepest thoughts and introspects. Is he just a reflection of yesterday, he asks? "Now it's the end," he declares in the chorus.

"Heaven :x: Hell", in a sense, is the perfect goodbye from SUM 41. Their sound has always been fairly diverse, and they've always enjoyed experimentation. With "Heaven :x: Hell", the band go out with a strong statement. "Heaven :x: Hell" is the most complete and adventurous album of SUM 41's career, and it's really a flawless way to say farewell.

Author: Anne Erickson
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