Sound — 9
After three years, Billy Talent are back with Billy Talent II. They won fans over with a hard rock sound and lead singer Ben Kowalewitch's trademark screams. Then they decided to make some changes: there is less screaming, it's not as angst-ridden, and there are now a few love songs- and I do not mean break-up songs (although there are more of those)- I mean LOVE songs. Or at least, kind of. The sentiment fest begins with Pins and Needles, written about dumping a girl over insecurity, regretting it, and asking forgiveness. Fans may not react well to this, especialy since the song is a lot softer than anything Billy Talent has ever done. Or is it? We continue on the love trail with the fourth single Surrender. This song follows the path of a young man who has fallen for his female friend, knowng she will never return his feelings, yet he loves her more than anything. Surrender was probably released as a single to show people that Billy Talent do have a softer side, and it worked. The song greatly differs fom anything people expected fom Billy Talent, and is overall a beautiful song. The Navy Song, also called In the Fall, follows the path of a soldier in the war. As the song progresses, it is clear that he misses his wife and wants to be with her in his time of death. While not entirely a love song, it is sentimental enough to gain at least partial dislike from old fans. Following the wake of The Ex, Billy Talent II delivers three breakup songs with three different breakup themes: the torture he had to go through (This Suffering), regret (Pins and Needles), and the I-don't-need-you anthem Prefect World (easily set apart by the lyrics "baby I don't need you"). A few musical highs of the album are the bass riff in Worker Bees, the opening music of The Navy Song, the killer riffs in Devil in a Midnight Mass, and the solo in Fallen Leaves. Overall, Billy Talent have partially turned around from their angry sound in Billy Talent, while staying true to their punk-rock roots.
Lyrics — 9
As with the first album, most lyrics are deep and metaphorical. Unlike the first ablum, the message of the song is usually straightforward with a few metaphors that don't hide the meaning, unlike someting like This is How it Goes. While this can be a good thing (I have gotten headaches trying to figure out what a song means) fans may miss the challenge. Not to say that no song has a deep meaning, just listen to Devil in a Midinght Mass, Red Flag, Worker Bees, Fallen Leaves, and Burn the Evidence among others. It's just that it's easy to figure out what a song means for the most part, but there is still that one verse that you can't crack. The lyrics are usually strong and meaningful. I think the only song with weak lyrics is Where is the Line, and that's only in the verses. On Billy Talent, there was a screaming part, or some variation on that, in eight or nine of the twelve songs. On Billy Talent II, there is only a scream in three of the thirteen songs. While it is nice to hear Ben's amazing voice, many fans-including myself-miss the old times (maybe that's part of the reason my favourite song is Worker Bees). One thing that bugs me is the little Homer Simpson-imitation thing. If you listen to the end of the second repetition of the pre-chorus in Red Flag, you can pick out the sound. That little yelp, identical to the one in Cut the Curtains, appears ont he album a few more times than needed. Hopefully that will be cut out of the third album. One thing I liked was the way Ben pronounced the words in the verses of This Suffering, that little whine. Overall, the lyrics are solid and deep.
Overall Impression — 10
Billy Talent has made a slight change in their sound while still being the Canadian rockers we know them as. Standout tracks are Worker Bees for being one of the three songs where Ben finally screams and for the perfectly pulled off bass riff (coutesy of John Gallant), Fallen Leaves for it's distinct sound, Where is the Line for the way Bens' voice sounds during the verses, Surrender for it's softer sound and opening riff, and The Navy Song for the way Ian D'Sa pulls off the Scottish sound. I would definately buy this CD again if I had to. I love their hard rock sound and how they're talikng about politics and war more. There is nothing I hate, but I don't like the little yelps(see lyrics section). Good job boys, another great album.