Sound — 9
Three albums after Billy Talent "I" (Not counting when they were Pezz) Billy Talent drops Billy Talent "III". Almost transparent are the wild, punk, teenage thrashing that made them famous in "I" and a polished, tight sound has replaced. And don't worry: I AIN'T NECESSARILY A BAD THING. Ben Kowalewicz's lyrics are well thought out, and fantastically delivered, though lacking the classic screams from "I," even less than "II." Ian D'Sa's guitar has been shined to finish, with sparking riffs, tight solos, and fast chords. Jonathan Gallant shows off his bass skills with deep bass lines that even twin with Ian's quick riffs, when they aren't glowing on their own. Like always, Aaron Solowoniuk's drumming accents almost everything played, all the while easily keeping his beat from being forgotten. They've even adapted more styles, such as the Celtic rhythm that fills Turn Your Back, the clean proggressive rock riff in White Sparrows, and the Bass-Only breakdown in Devil On My Shoulder. Fans of Billy Talent from "Watoosh!" and "I" may be a little disappointed with the even darker, cleaner, and slightly slower "III," but it won't enough to make them hate it.
Lyrics — 8
Billy Talent's unique lyrical sense strikes again, taking themes you've heard time and time again and making you re-think them again. The lyrics are even more metaphorical in places, even in the titles, Diamond On A Landmine for instance, just radiates images of "Look, Love, Want, But Just Try To Touch." The music written for the album is so heartfelt, you almost don't need lyrics to understand, but they lie distinctly in the music like they always belonged there. As I said, the wild screams such as from This Is How It Goes (I), are mostly missing, that doesn't mean BT isn't as angry as they used to be: The amazement of Ian and Jon's cutting harmonies behind Ben's raw vocal ablities will fill most of that hole in with that same "Just kicked a trach can" feeling.
Overall Impression — 9
01. Devil On My Shoulder: Ian's rolling riffs in this song harnizing with Jon's competeing basslines, make this another great opener, almost promising a great album to follower. Ben's vocals deliver sad and sarcastic lyrics perfectly. Ian keeps the pace with a thick solo that changes into a smooth solo which prepares us for the drop into Jon's bassline solo. This is one of my favorites, keeping the 4-time tradition of favorite opening songs by BT. And for a side of BT we've never really seen before: 10/10 02. Rusted From The Rain: A sharp, yet ambient guitar, reminiscent of Try Honesty, and Ben's tired voice brings in a song that trudges like a tinman needing oil. Ian's solo is quick, but somewhat repetitive, and after the brilliance of Jon's bass work in Devil On My Shoulder, his bassline seems somwhat boring. Even though this song reminds us of a CERTAIN MOVIE, it's use of similes and metaphores makes it a favorite. Too bad it feels so slow after track #1: 8/10 03. Saint Veronika: I love songs that begin, and you're not quite sure where they're going, but a different direction than you thought! The song is fast, but sad, since it's theme is suicide, but Jon's bass makes for a furiously fast heartbeat which underlies Ian's confused riffs and Aaron's angry drums. For the bridge, Ian drops into a compressed, fuzzed riff, the likes of which hasn't been heard since Devil In A Midnight Mass. Ben soon after matches his speed with the same riff, and Aaron brings back the anger driven drums. Oh yeah, the last prechorus brings back the four glowing notes reminiscent of Burn The Evidence. One of my favorites gets: 9/10 04. Tears Into Wine: The beginning reminds me very much The Ex, but the lyrical topic is more like dealing with loneliness, OR, more like, not caring about about your loneliness and (maybe) drowning it in drinking. The music will definitely be familiar territory for BT fans, and one of Ian's signature solos makes this newest single a favorite: 9/10 05. White Sparrows: A beautifully sad song, accented by Ian's riffs, White Sparrows is one of the few songs on "III" that features classic screams. Ben's sorrowful vocals, Jon's running basslines, Ian's crying riffs, and Aaron's slightly pounding drums, all contribute to a central theme. A favorite that's hard for me to listen to: 10/10 06. Pocketful Of Dreams: A song with lyrics that continually made me laugh out loud, Pocketful Of Dreams drips with a cold sarcasm that stabs at the rich at every turn. The guitar harmonizes with the vocals most of the time, but Ian drops a quick solo in the middle. The song is okay, but it's the lyrics that make it more than a 7: 8.5/10 07. The Dead Can't Testify: A quiet, reversed guitar intro revs up an intro with a hip-hop bounce, which Ian accents with screaming harmonics. Speaking of which, this is another song that features Ben's signature screaming. The song is even accented with a Grecian style instrument, which fit perfectly under Jon's walking bassline and Ian's thick solo. Aaron's drumming once again accents everything played, even Ben's singing. Heh, I'll let you decide for yourself what the song's about; For a fantastic song, awesome metaphorical lyrics, and an equally awesome outro, a perfect: 10/10 08. Diamond On A Landmine: This song is very pop-rock in it's sound, even the vocals, though harmonized perfectly, just don't fit too well. The lyrics are very straight-forward, except for a few places. Here would been a good place to add similes and metaphores to cover for the dip in sound. Ian's long missed triads are back for the verse, but Jon's basslines have gone flat again. Even's Aaron's drumming fades into the background, though well placed at points. Still a good song, but missing the previous momentum to make an 8: 7/10 09. Turn Your Back: If that last 4:31 made you forget why you got this album, the next 3:22 of CLASSIC Billy Talent will kick your mind back into gear!! With Aaron's aforementioned Celtic Hard-Rock rhythm, Jon's kicking basslines, and Ian's well placed chords and lightning triads, this song is the perfect place for Ben's straight-forward lyrics the topic of which is definitely reminiscent of Red Flag. An awesome turnaround from a low point earns the song a: 9.5/10 10. Sudden Movements: Is one of slowest songs on "III", but kept short, so it feels even faster than Diamond On A Landmine With a bright musical interlude instead of a bridge, Ian's screaming harmonics again, and Ben's mysterious lyrics make this song a good listen. Jon's simple basslines are perfect for this song, it gives you something to instantly refer back to if you somehow get lost in this song. If Diamond On A Landmine got a 7, this song definitely deserves an: 8/10 11. Definition Of Destiny: Billy Talent loves to leave you with at least one fist pump before they leave, Burn The Evidence For Instance, and it's no difference here. The chorus is super catchy, and Jon's twinning riff with Ian makes you want to rewind at least once. Aaron drums are so furious, they make you feeling like running somewhere. Looking at the lyrics themselves could remind you of something Rise Against might sing, but Ben's flawless deliverance and the rest of Billy Talent's signature style makes this song an almost perfect ending to the album: 9/10 As with most band, Billy Talent has evolved as they become more recognizable. They've straightened their clothes, grown up a little, and stopped dented the neighbors' car with a baseball bat. But songs like Devil On My Shoulder, Saint Veronika, The Dead Can't Testify, and Turn Your Back, show that just because they've gotten older, doesn't mean they won't smash a taillight for the fun of it. Long time fans (like myself) could, and probably will, be a little disappointed by Billy Talent's new sound in "III," but with a Deluxe edition that includes four demos, guitar tabs for the whole album, and the awesome "Guitar Villian" tracks (a version of the album with the guitar tracks removed so the fans can play), no one can say that Billy Talent wasn't thinking of their fans. I say: Even if you don't like it as much, add it to your collection and give Billy Talent time to settle into their new limelight.