Billy Talent – Dead Silence – Review

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Silently building a steady fan base here in the US since the release of their first record “Billy Talent” in 2003, Billy Talent, who have enjoyed a fruitful success story in their native Canada (including numerous Much Music and Juno awards) have been the one glaring underrated great rock bands who have yet to fall prey to things like major label mishandling, over-production, and general “selling out.” If you were to ask five friends of yours if they have heard of BT, they would probably all say no, but their ignorance is no longer justified; because after five creatively written and enthralling full-lengths (including one made under their previous band Pezz) it has become clear that this four-piece not only keeps up the musical and lyrical quality with every new release, but they evolve and mature without alienating faithful listeners too. The bands latest new album, which broke the roman-numeral sequence “I,” “II,” “III,” of previous records, “Dead Silence” has both a new focused direction and impressive instrumental range that make it different both subtlety and greatly from previous records. 

From the start of the acoustic Green Day-esque intro song “Lonely Road To Absolution,” “Dead Silence” feels as though it takes previous Billy Talent material as a beginning point and then ventures out with music that ranges from revolt-filled rock in “Viking Death March,” to the electric/acoustic mellow song “Stand Up And Run,” and on to the manic punk and spunky shouts of “Man Alive!“. Where the band once had one central rock focus on “Billy Talent,” that has since changed with later efforts to support touching songs like “Surrender” (“Billy Talent II”) and “White Sparrows” (“Billy Talent III”). The culmination of this maturity and indulgence in the lighter side of pompous rock has hemmed itself into many songs on this latest record; from the introducing piano and gainy guitars on “Swallowed Up By The Ocean” that sound like The Fray, to the jumpy, yet-moody punk sound on the lyrically moving, “Love Was Still Around” and the girl-searching acoustic sing-a-long anthem sung song “Stand Up And Run.” Of course the band hasn’t gone completely soft from their plucky punk beginnings, as familiar sounding outings like the best single (in sound and accessible anti-corporation message) on “Viking Death March” as well as the impressive guitar riffage from Ian D’Sa on “Surprise Surprise.

One thing I was certain about Billy Talent with this record was how they had fully embraced their political activist tendencies. “Dead Silence” has a large section dedicated (either blatantly or metaphorically) to an anti-corporate, anti-corruption, and pro-humanity message. It all feels very lyrically similar to early-era Thursday (outstanding) and this is from a band that has been together for 19 years. It’s simply amazing how BT can still muster a prolific combination of intriguing fretwork and inspiring words. Something that is clear on the songs, “Never took no advice. Did you ever realize, that your violence had taken your virtue? Well you can’t wash away, the mistakes of yesterday. When the boys wearing blue come to greet you” on “Love Was Still Around,” “If this is the end, let’s bury the past. This might be our one last chance. Together until the last grain of sand has dropped from the hourglass.” on the MCR-esque song “Cure For The Enemy,” and the raging revolt-filled song “Viking Death March,” “Cracking the whip on the backs of the poor, we asked you to stop but you still wanted more. The blood on your hands left a trail as you crawl; Down on your knees you just don’t look so tall.”

Realistically there are always two things about Billy Talent that I have expected to continue to bring them unfettered success; lead singer Ben Kowalewicz and guitarist/producer Ian D’Sa. The continuously potent lyrical metaphors and relatable stories that Ben sing using his addictively signature high-pitched belting, never seem to wain or white wash, while Ian conjures magic; unloading dozens of off kilter chords and solos that melodically coalesce into brilliant song structures and original chord progression.

Dead Silence“ is a superb effort, taking what Billy Talent has accomplished with prior efforts and journeying forward with an intelligent teaming of passionately sung themes and a gamut of instrumental experimentation that seeks a way to express newly explored ideas and emotions. This is musical maturity at its best. Make sure you now take notice of BT and tell your five friends that if they haven’t heard of them, to go out and purchase this new wonderful album. [Staff]

Score: 4.5 (out of 5)

Release Date: September 11th, 2012
Record Label: Warner Bros. Records
Genre: Rock
RIYL: Pezz, Rise Against, Anti-Flag

Track Listing:
1. Lonely Road to Absolution
2. Viking Death March
3. Surprise Surprise
4. Runnin’ Across the Tracks
5. Love Was Still Around
6. Stand Up and Run
7. Crooked Minds
8. Man Alive!
9. Hanging by a Thread
10. Cure for the Enemy
11. Don’t Count on the Wicked
12. Show Me the Way
13. Swallowed Up by the Ocean
14. Dead Silence

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