Saturday, 2 February 2013

Billy Talent "Dead Silence"

The best bands/musicians in history are the ones who mature as they continue to make music. The ones who refuse to release the same album over and over again. No matter how popular the previous effort may have been, the band wants to move forward rather than stay in the same spot. Billy Talent are among the top of the bunch when it comes to these bands.

Billy Talent have shown once again that they refuse to rehash old ideas with the release of their fourth and most mature album yet Dead Silence, released in September 2012. Going even more toward an alternative rock sound, the band has come a long way since their post-hardcore punk days surrounding the release of their self titled debut.

Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz almost completely eliminates his screaming technique on this album, only coming close to it when he sings the verses on the heavy-hitting track Running Across the Tracks. Ben relies far more on the melodic aspects of his voice, similar to how he started doing so on Billy Talent III. This new usage of his voice gives us songs such as Swallowed Up By The Ocean and Hanging By A Thread, two songs that early Billy Talent could have never thought of. Both songs are possibly some of the best vocal performances of Ben’s career. Hanging By A Thread musically sounds like many of Billy Talents prototypical sound. Swallowed Up By The Ocean however is a very soft and beautiful sounding song, complete with the usage of a piano. Add in the powerful chorus, you have one of the best songs on the album.

Guitarist Ian D’Sa has always been a major driving force in making Billy Talent unique compared to any other band around. His twisted, out-of-the-norm guitar playing has always found a way to appeal to the bands listener, yet at the same time absolutely astound his fellow guitar players. However, Ian decides to slightly simplify his playing on this album. Of course with Ian, “slightly simplifying” still means out-of-the-norm, just with a more subtle approach that doesn’t go as noticed this time around. Ian’s highlight moment on this album would be the track Crooked Minds. The introduction of this song shows the Ian we all know with a complex guitar intro, leading in to a heavy mid-tempo gem of a song. Ian also shows a more comfortable and simplified style in his guitar solos. And this album has a lot of solos.

The two as of yet singles off of the album are Viking Death March and Surprise Surprise. The former, if you haven’t already heard it, is a song that very effectively gives off a marching feel to it. The best way to describe the song would actually be by its title: it sounds like the kind of song that Vikings would march to war to. Surprise Surprise is a bit of a curiously chosen song to choose as a single. There is no doubt that the reason the band wanted it on the radio was because of its lyrics, which essentially attack trends and the state of the market. Musically the song is probably the second worst song on the album, with Man Alive! being the worst. Both songs have a very sleazy and dirty feeling to them, however Ben just doesn’t sound completely comfortable singing either song. Fortunately the album as a whole is so good that even these songs are pretty good.

Other songs to spotlight would be Love Was Still Around, Stand Up and Run, Cure For the Enemy, Don’t Count on the Wicked, and the title track Dead Silence. Every single one of these songs are key examples to how mature the band has become. Stand Up and Run is another one of the albums most beautiful songs, while Don’t Count on the Wicked features one “wicked” guitar riff to start off the song that sets the tone for the rest of this amazing tune.

Having spoken with quite a few fans of Billy Talent III, most of them agree The Dead Can’t Testify was an incredible song and a HUGE stepping stone for the band. Cure For the Enemy is this albums answer to that that song, if only for the chorus. This may be among the slowest-tempo songs on the album, but as soon as the chorus graces your ears, your jaw may very well drop.

This is an album that gets significantly better track-by-track. The last few tracks on the album are far better than the first few. Just like any good album, it starts off strong, but ends off way stronger. People looking for another post-hardcore punk album will unfortunately be very disappointed, but for those hoping for an album that surpasses their third effort, they may find it here.



Love Was Still Around” – This song has a very familiar feel to it compared to past Billy Talent songs. It’s moderately fast and has nice aggressive rhythm to it. However it also displays the matured sound that has been spoken about throughout this review. Ben does not stop giving all his heart in singing this tune, with a very unique snake charmer-esque verse and a nice bad-ass chorus. Ian performs one of his great solos on this track. It may not be a lightning fast face melter, but any rock fan should know that shouldn’t always be what makes a good guitar solo.



9.5 (Out of 10)


Track List:

"Lonely Road to Absolution"  
"Viking Death March"  
"Surprise Surprise"  
"Runnin' Across the Tracks"  
"Love Was Still Around"  
"Stand Up and Run"  
"Crooked Minds"  
"Man Alive!"  
"Hanging by a Thread"  
"Cure for the Enemy"  
"Don't Count on the Wicked"  
"Show Me the Way"  
"Swallowed Up by the Ocean"  
"Dead Silence"  

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