Year 3, Day 1: Billy Talent’s III Time’s the Charm

Year 3, Album 1: Billy Talent – Billy Talent III

Tracklisting

  1. Devil on My Shoulder
  2. Rusted from the Rain
  3. Saint Veronika
  4. Tears into Wine
  5. White Sparrows
  6. Pocketful of Dreams
  7. The Dead Can’t Testify
  8. Diamond on a Landmine
  9. Turn Your Back
  10. Sudden Movements
  11. Definition of Destiny

About the Album

Billy Talent III is the third studio album from Canadian punk band, Billy Talent. The album was recorded from November 2008 through to April 2009. Released in July of 2009 for Europe, the United Kingdom, and Canada (September 2009 for the United States), the album debuted at #1 on the Canadian Album charts. The album spawned five singles: Turn Your Back, Rusted from the Rain, Devil on my Shoulder, Saint Veronika, and Diamond on a Landmine. There was a special edition of the album (Billy Talent III: Guitar Villain Edition) released which contained a special second CD which featured the entire album played without the guitars (known as Guitar Villain) and contained a guitar tab for the entire album.

Thoughts on the Album

So here we finally are… day 1 of third year of The Broad Street Playlist. It’s 2015, Lent has just started today, and we are in store for another 40 albums this year. Day 1 brings us an album that I thought was a good choice to start Year 3. Why not start with a band’s third album? Everything good comes in threes and Billy Talent’s III is no exception. III marks a departure from the fast-paced, in-your-face, blistering tracks that Billy Talent is known for. The album, where some fans might call compromising, I would call experimenting.  Some might argue that III is the band selling out, but I refuse to call it that. Maybe some fans don’t hear the same sincerity in this album that I do.

The quality of the album is second to none. Every member of the band can be heard crystal clear. It’s a crisp sounding album. While the album is good, for me, it’s a confusing one. Right off the start it left me confused as to which direction it was going to head in. The first track, Devil On My Shoulder is a perfect example of typical Billy Talent sound. It is a mid-tempo jam and definitely a album highlight. It features a dynamic bassline by Jon Gallant and Ian D’sa’s expert guitar work. This song is a perfect opening track.

Devil On My Shoulder, is followed up by the lead single and second track, Rusted from the Rain. It is the band’s first real foray into a slower style of song. But that doesn’t make it a ballad. In fact it’s far from a ballad. The distortion during the song’s brilliant chorus is top notch and features even more of D’sa’s excellent guitar work. The song has a driving bassline and a massive and soaring chorus.

Saint Veronika, the third track, tackles the issue of suicide. This is an issue that the band hasn’t strived away from before (listen to: Nothing to Lose). For me, it is an incredibly heartfelt and powerful song. Jon Gallant’s bass work drives this song. His bassline makes for a furiously fast heartbeat. This heartbeat like bassline underlies Ian’s confused riffs and Aaron’s angry drums. As for the song’s bridge, D’sa drops a distorted and fuzzed riff similar to that of Devil in a Midnight Mass.

Turn Your Back, sounds heavy than it’s original release as a single. Of course the single version featured Anti-Flag. Of course both versions channel classic BT sound (listen to: Red Flag).  Aaron Solowoniuk’s drumming is a Celtic hard-rock style: driving, drum pounding, and angry. With Gallant’s kicking basslines, Ian’s excellently placed chords and lightning triads, this song is the perfect place for Ben’s straight-forward lyrics. It’s lyrical topics is that much like Red Flag.

Diamond on a Landmine, while I love the song, doesn’t exactly fit. It’s more of a pop-rock sound. For me, the despite the excellent harmonization in the vocals, they just don’t seem to fit well. While the lyrics are rather straightforward, they do lose their mark in spots. The bassline seems a bit flat. It’s a good song, just the lost momentum from it really hurts it.

Other high/lowlights: One of the songs I really didn’t like was the tenth track, Sudden Movements. It’s a heavy, burgeoning, and slow track. Probably one of my favorite tracks from the album is, The Dead Can’t Testify. It makes references to the Salem Witch Hunts/Trials. It features Ben’s trademark screaming. White Sparrows, is a fantastic track despite being an incredibly sad and sorrowful one. It is accented by D’sa’s riffs. Ben’s sorrowful vocals, Jon’s running basslines, Ian’s crying riffs, and Aaron’s slightly pounding drums, all make this tack one of the best on the album.

Conclusion

Billy Talent III is a departure for the Canadian punk rockers. But departure is not synonymous with bad. III is a more saturated sound. While the album may disappoint the die hard fans, it’ll gain the band some new ones. The wild, punk, and thrashing sound that put them on the map with I, has been replaced with a polished and tighter sound. Ben Kowalewicz‘s lyrics are incredibly thought out and delivered in a fantastic fashion. 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 and driving bass lines that play off of Ian’s quick riffs, when they aren’t shining through on their own. As like always, Aaron Solowoniuk’s drumming accents almost everything played, all the while easily keeping his beat from being forgotten. Different isn’t always a bad thing, and Billy Talent III isn’t bad at all.

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