Review: Billy Talent, Dead Silence

Billy Talent’s fourth studio album (or fifth, if you count 1998s Watoosh! when they were called Pez) was released a month ago – I’ve been slacking! Instead of the continuation of the numeric progression of album titles, which would see this being named Billy Talent IV, the band have decided to go with Dead Silence. This reflects the fact that they have made a move forwards from songwriting right down to artwork.

The album starts off with an intro called Lonely Road To Absolution which is slow and quiet in stark contrast to their previous angst-y and aggressive albums. The rest of the album sounds more akin to the first three records, but there is a palpable difference in the sound of the band and the depth and scope of the lyrics and playing. The sound is obviously Billy Talent thanks to their signature guitar sound and vocalist, Ben Kowalewicz’s distinctive vocals, though there are some subtle and some major changes.

Viking Death March and Runnin’ across The Tracks open the album in a familiar sound from previous albums, along with Hanging By A Thread later on in the track listing (this track actually sounds like a song that didn’t quite make it onto Billy Talent III, which is not a bad thing in my book). These are followed by heavier tracks like Surprise Surprise, Don’t Count On The Wicked and Cure For The Enemy which have an almost nu-metal sound and style of playing and Man Alive! which has a pounding pop punk drum beat that drives the song forward at breakneck speed.

Then there are the slower tempo tracks like Stand Up And Run, which is a ballad that keeps the sound of the album fresh and gives the listener (and probably the players) a breather. The furthest they stray from what you would expect from a Billy Talent song is Swallowed Up By The Ocean which is piano-led. Pianos are nothing new to their songs, but to have one where it is the lead instrument is a massive step and it sounds amazing, which begs the question; Why the hell haven’t they done this ’till now?!

The theme of the entire album is a critique on society and government which can turn off some listeners, but what is great about this band is that the songs they craft really do grab you and make you listen. They have such a unique style that they are easily identifiable and, strangely, every song sounds like some classic post-hardcore/punk rattler that you’ve listened to for your whole life. Very few bands have this effect and thank the stars that Billy Talent do. Major praise has to be given to the fact that after the best part of two decades they still feel comfortable enough to experiment with their sound and come out with an album that looks forward as well as into their back catalogue and doesn’t sound disjointed. This is a masterpiece.

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