Sound — 8
Three years after their enormously successful sophomore album and almost constant touring in Europe and North America, Canadian punk-rockers Billy Talent are back with their third album: "Billy Talent III". The band tapped producer Brendan O'Brian (this year's producer for Killswitch Engage's second self-titled album and Mastodon's "Crack the Skye") to help the band with their highly anticipated third album. As for the album's quality, it is amazing, with every band member clearly audible throughout the album. As for the band's style, it is just about the same as it always has been, with the only difference being slightly more radio-friendly songs and, of course, Ian D'Sa laying down some pretty solid solos on this album. While some fans may be dissapointed with the band's new radio sound, "Billy Talent III" is still a great rock album. Right from the first track, entitled "Devil On My Shoulder", Billy Talent prove that their sound hasn't changed. This mid-tempo song is definately a track highlight, with a great bassline by Jon Gallant and an excellent guitar solo by Ian D'Sa. The song is followed by the lead single of the album, "Rusted From The Rain", the first real slow song on the album. This is not to say it is a ballad: The song still features plenty of distortion during it's brilliant chorus and features yet another great solo by Ian. "Saint Veronika" begins with a simple one note bass riff by Jon Gallant before being joined by Ian on guitar. The song is quite good before hitting the bridge, which is quite simply the most headbashing riff the band has ever written. Though the members to shine on this track are lead vocalist Ben Kowalewicz, who shows off his scream for the first time on the album, and bassist Jon Gallant, with his amazing bass playing during the bridge and breakdown. This is followed by "Tears Into Wine", another album highlight with excellent lyrics by Ben and an amazing guitar solo/bridge section, though it could probably be longer. "White Sparrows" begins with clean guitar and is one of the softest songs on the album. While is does feature a decent set of lyrics, this song is (not to say it is a bad song) a weak point of the album. "Pocketful of Dreams" is one of the gems of the album, with it's lyrics critiquing celebrities. The lyrics fit surprisingly well with the music in this track, with its catchy chorus and great backing vocals by Ian and Jon. This is followed by another gem, entitled "The Dead Can't Testify", which may have one of the simplest yet catchiest main riffs the band has ever written. While the lyrics aren't exactly relatible, anyone who has ever heard of a Salem Witch Hunt should be quite pleased. Another great track, sung quite well, with another solid guitar solo by Ian. "Diamond On A Landmine" is another solid song about love lost. It features another stellar vocal performance by Ben and great guitar work by Ian, particularly during the bridge section. Most fans of the band have already heard the punk anthem "Turn Your Back", which is another great track with great musicianship by each member of the band. The only difference between the album version and the version and the version released as a single is that Ian has taken over the vocal duties held by Anti-Flag's Justin San and Chris #2. Definately the most punkrock driven song on the album. "Sudden Movements" is easily the most grooving song on the album. Ben really shines on this track, with great vocals which he sings beautifully. Ian provides another solid solo, and lyrically it is one of the best songs on the album. One thing one can't say about Billy Talent is that they have a slow album closer. They keep their rock albums rocking over at least 45 minutes with every release, and "Definition of Destiny" is no exception. It may have some clean guitar, but it sounds eery on this closing track. Each band member gets to shine on this track, making it a great album closer on this great rock record.
Lyrics — 8
One cannot deny that Ben Kowalewicz is an amazing singer; one with great range and one of the harshest screams in rock today. His singing is just as great as ever on this record, though it does feature considerably less screaming than past efforts (though this is due to the more radio-friendly approach the band took on this album). Ian D'Sa and Jon Gallant once again provide stellar backing vocals, entering at the perfect time, particularly on "Pocketful of Dreams" and the opening track "Devil On My Shoulder". The only criticism about the band's lyrics is that they are much less relatible on this album compared to past albums. Certainly there are tracks people can relate to, like "Rusted From The Rain" which is about marital breakdown, but while the lyrics are still quite good, listeners will find it pretty difficult to relate to the songs this time around.
Overall Impression — 8
"Billy Talent III" marks the debut of a more saturated sound for Billy Talent. While it may dissapoint a few fans, the majority should be pretty happy with the band's third album. It will also gain the band a great deal of new fans. One thing the band has done with this album which will especially please the diehard fans of the band is create a "Guitar Villain" edition, which features a second disc of the entire album mixed without the guitar tracks, as well as tabs for each of the songs. This is quite the experience, and will be a hell of a lot of fun for guitar playing fans of the band. "Billy Talent III"'s finest addition is the guitar solos scattered throughout the album by Ian D'Sa. And while the songs feature less screaming than the band's last two album's, Ben's singing is still at the top of it's game. What Billy Talent have done with "Billy Talent III" is create exactly what they set out to do with every album. Critiize it all you want, but at the end of the day, it's exactly what it's supposed to be: A great rock album.