Billy Talent | Billy Talent II (Atlantic)

cd_billy-talent.jpgIf you’re going to start with a bang you might as well end with a bang, and Billy Talent do just that.







The Canadian foursome that is Billy Talent serves up an impressive sophomore album with Billy Talent II. It’s all the things that made you fall in love with them the first time, only a bit more polished.

The raw emotion unleashed in Ben Kowalewicz’s powerful vocals invites you into his mind once again. With such an amazing range and variation in pitch, it’s easy to get tangled in the web he weaves. When you pair that with Ian D’sa’s solid guitar riffs, the combination is lethal.

Once again the lyrical content is about relationships between those who burn you and loved ones who left you scared. In "This Suffering," these themes are very evident in the line, "She’s a bullet in Russian Roulette." In "Where Is the Line?" Kowalewicz calls out the new-wave hipsters who seem to have flooded the scene lately, leaving them with one line of advice: "Here today, but forgotten tomorrow."

The record starts off strong with the single "Devil in a Midnight Mass." It’s exactly the song you would expect to come from Billy Talent: raw, in-your-face rock that starts off with a primal scream to let you know they’re back.

The album maintains nearly the same intensity throughout its entirety, only easing up for a few minutes with songs like "Pins and Needles" and "Surrender." The singable choruses continue thought the album and keep you chanting along, feeling the intensity of the band.

If you’re going to start with a bang you might as well end with a bang, and Billy Talent do that with the song "Burn the Evidence." It’s the type of song that slowly builds and builds until it finally explodes in the chorus, telling you, "There’s no time to waste."

Standout tracks for the album are "Red Flag" and "Worker Bees." This is not to say that the album is not filled with good songs, but those are the ones you’ll return to multiple times. The bass line alone on "Worker Bees" is enough to have you coming back for more. If you’re looking for great backing vocals, check out "Surrender," where you’ll find yourself backing Kowalewicz.

The downside is the fact that the album feels really polished. There was something about the first release that felt rawer and more intense. Billy Talent II is great because it is everything you liked about Billy Talent, but I feel like they could have expanded and explored a bit more musically. The songs are memorable, to be sure, but they stuck out more on the first album. B+ | Josh Schobert

RIYL: Rise Against, Sense Fail, Thursday

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