Friday, 14 September 2012

Review: Billy Talent - Dead Silence

 It's always been in the background of the world of big stadium filling rock bands that you could find Toronto punks Billy Talent residing. Overlooked is a good way of describing the general reaction they've received throughout their nineteen year career, as their massive punk anthems, as big as anything any Lostprophet, Foo Fighter or... Chemical Romancer could give you have never gained them the popularity they should really receive. However, with unexpected slots on the main stage at this year's Download and Reading & Leeds festival, it looks like the deserved amount of praise and attention has been rolling their way, effectively leading up to the release of their fifth album Dead Silence, an effective chance for them to show those that weren't looking before what they're really made of.

 With enough hope, those who hadn't taken full notice of the group's efforts before will identify the richness and quality that ticks all the boxes for a prime quality album in fields of screamo, post hardcore and big sing-along stadium rock and will go on to appreciate what they missed out on before because Dead Silence is a continuation of the quality that makes Billy Talent such a joyfully formidable act before.

  Getting into the album as a whole isn't exactly asking listeners of much. Lead single Viking Death March instantly opens with a highly infectious group played out by Ian D'Sa with energetic hooks that mean headbanging can't be avoided. Throughout, this ability to simply sound bigger and bigger as proceedings fold out is a truly awe-inspiring feat. By the time you experience the grandeur of ballad Swallowed Up By the Ocean, it's obvious that Billy Talent can't be viewed in any other way than epic.

 But Billy Talent prove in typical form that their poppy hooks are poppy hooks delivered without the poppy ethics. Frontman Ben Kowalewicz puts all his bitterness and fury into the riled up performances of Surprise Surprise and the Rage Against the Machine-esque breakdowns of Crooked Minds. It also seems that Kowalewicz isn't exactly in a positive frame of mind either in what he says, stating "If this road goes to Hell/ I'm right back where I fell/ Made a career of my mistakes" on Runnin' Across the Tracks and "I heard the soldiers say/ "Don't let them get away/ But I could not escape their bullets and grenades/ A causality of war/ A victim of mistake/ Another widow has been made" on the bold title track. Kowalewicz proves himself a man that puts more thought into what he talks about than many of his feel-good anthem contemporaries and with his unique set of vocals, that many are put off by and many more are drawn closer to, they come off with a massive sense of originality and indestructibility.

 With these efforts, Billy Talent prove themselves to be the band that makes the thinking man's stadium rock songs. They've proved on more than one occasion that they have the hooks and melodies to get the main stage at major festivals on their feet, but to do it once more with the sincerity and class they've always hung on to and push it to a new state of grandeur and majesty surely makes Dead Silence the group's most accomplished work so far. Beauty, anger, anthems and brains, there's no excuse for Billy Talent not to join the big leagues now.

Billy Talent's Dead Silence is out now via Atlantic. The band will tour the UK on the Rock Sound Riot Tour in November.

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