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Billy Talent

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Album Review

Billy Talent takes its curious handle from a character name in the 1996 mock rockumentary Hard Core Logo, which traced the continuing adventures of an aging Vancouver punk band. The reference is probably more resonant in the Talent's home base of Toronto; everywhere else, it's a little awkward. Fortunately, the quartet's eponymous Atlantic release struggles mightily to make music matter more than moniker or stylized genre revivalism. Over a muscular, relentless, and viciously catchy 40 minutes, the band checks the wiry, melodic punk of the Buzzcocks while working Fugazi's dueling vocalist dynamic and searingly precise guitar breaks into its own three-minute anthems. The Buzzcocks' influence is immediate and easy; indeed, Billy Talent conveniently opened a clutch of dates on the reunited veterans' 2003 tour. Likewise, Talent benefits from production that tweaks its hooks for maximum sonic pugilism. But while Benjamin Kowalewicz's yowl and screech do bear some resemblance to countryman and somewhat melodramatic Our Lady Peace mouth Raine Maida, his sloganeering lyrics are laced with cynicism, and right-hand man guitarist Ian D'Sa favors tense, angular guitar tones over the enormous compression of the mall-punk boy bands that proliferated at the turn of the century. "Try Honesty" and "This Is How It Goes" certainly have the shout-along choruses. But the latter's "Hold my breath until my heart explodes" is darker than any of Good Charlotte's toothless challenges to authority. There are no nods to hip-hop or power balladry here; "Living in the Shadows" and "Line & Sinker" are roiling, throttling post-hardcore screeds field-stripped to basics, but rebuilt with melody. "The Ex" might be the most straightforward two-and-a-half minutes of punk revivalism on Billy Talent. But even here, the band tears at conventional spurned boyfriend lyrics with vindictive gang vocal interplay, and rushes headlong into the explosive chorus with a nervous energy that's hard to fake. Certainly, Atlantic would like to see Billy Talent hit a chord with the kids — the record's melodic accessibility bears that out — but the group wisely favors agitation and tension over cherry-picking from current musical fashion.

Customer Reviews

A criminally overlooked record by a truly unique band.

Billy Talent had the misfortune of being lumped in with other major-label "punk" groups when their debut was released, but they are lightyears ahead of their peers. Don't let the odd band name or major-label logo fool you - these guys are serious musicians, and their brand of viceral revivalist punk will make you a believer - and this is from an admitted indie rock snob.

The Most Unique Band in Rock

Billy Talent is THE most unique band in Rock. When you have to compare Billy Talent to other bands to describe their sound, they might say 'Oh, they're a hardcore Simple Plan,' but Billy Talent has such an energetic, original feel and sound that you can't compare them to anyone else. This is the only album where I enjoy ALL of the songs a WHOLE lot, and can listen to the album over and over. Here is my top 5 ranking of songs: 1) Lies - Powerful vocals and message 2) Try Honesty - Calm one moment, then it explodes the next with a strong message and sound. 3) Standing in the Rain - This is the most energetic adrenaline pumper on the album 4) River Below - Aggressive and powerful, STRONG vocals. 5) Line & Sinker - Also aggressive and powerful with STRONG vocals (same as River Below) All in all, Billy Talent's album provides you with an incredible musical journey that has so much energy you'll be begging for more. (I am so pumped for the upcoming 2006 album)

Red Flag!!!! It's not on this album...

People out there are going absolutely crazy over Red Flag, when in reality, it isn't that great of a song. I would prefer many other songs over it by Billy Talent. You guys need to look beyond their singles and the super hits. The best stuff, in my opinion, is what doesn't get played constantly and is not always talked about. Take my advice, and purchase this whole album, and listen to ALL of the songs. I won't recommend any, because they are all great songs. Branch out. Buy all of their work, and you'll be happier. Rock on Billy Talent, rock on...


Formed: 1999 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Punk revival quartet Billy Talent used to be known as Pezz back in their Streetsville, Ontario, high school days. But by 1999, the quartet -- vocalist Ben Kowalewicz, guitarist Ian D'Sa, bassist Jon Gallant, and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk -- had adopted a new moniker and were making their way in Toronto with the self-released Watoosh! LP under their belt. The Try Honesty EP followed in 2001; it led to strong local buzz, exposure supporting larger touring acts, and an eventual demo deal with EMI. The...
Full Bio
Billy Talent, Billy Talent
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Hard Rock, Alternative, Punk
  • Released: Aug 26, 2003

Customer Ratings