Sum 41

Chuck

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In June 2004, Sum 41 was in Congo filming a documentary for charity when they found themselves caught in the midst of the country's ongoing hostilities. But a UN aid worker named Chuck Pelletier was instrumental in getting the band to safety, and a grateful Sum 41 named their fourth album in his honor. As they say in their liners, "Without him, we'd be dead. Chuck rules!" The experience also seems to have mellowed the group's sarcastic streak. From its aggressive metal and hardcore overtones to lyrics that rail against societal ignorance and a world gone wrong, Chuck is a few steps ahead of the smirking, jocular anthems that populated Sum 41's previous output. This suddenly sober outlook hasn't lessened the rock power, though. "Why is there no reason we all can't change?" Deryck Whibley wonders in "No Reason," but the cut also binds the rapid-fire pace of hardcore to a great chorus hook. Lead single "We're All to Blame" lashes out at greed with some vicious metal riffing, "Bitter End" takes its cues from the double-bass kicks and furious lead solos of Anthrax, and "There's No Solution"'s layered vocals, psychological fretting, and explosive chorus shift give it a Linkin Park feel. Sum 41 also avoids employing too many "serious" add-ons, such as string sections or synthesizers. Chuck does have a few passages of acoustic guitar (most effectively on the low-key "Slipping Away"). But like Sum 41's previous efforts, it's a concise album that clocks in at just over a half-hour, with a basic understanding that fast and loud is what the band does best. But this time around, Sum 41 has made sure to set its message at the same high volume.

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