Billy Talent
Billy Talent


4.5
superb

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
May 7th, 2009 | 83 replies | 8,205 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: F**k first impressions!

While I cannot recall the specific song, I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard Toronto punk quartet Billy Talent. It was on an overnight music video show that I had video-taped, and on replaying the particular clip, I found myself hitting the fast-forward button about 30 seconds into it. While half of you wonder what video-tape is and the other half are surprised someone can be so narrow-minded, I just felt that it would be near impossible to overcome such negative first impressions. Months later, I found out how wrong I would be!

“What was the cause of these negative first impressions?” I hear you ask. Well, quite simply put, lead vocalist Ben Kowalewicz has a voice that will be despised much more than it is liked. During a recent live set, one attendee disparagingly described the sound of Kowalewicz’s singing as akin to the noise which is made when a bird is being choked. How this sound would be known is beyond me, yet the description probably isn’t too far off the mark. It is an under-statement to suggest the vocals take a little while getting used to.

Yet, it is even more of an under-statement to suggest that one is in for a rewarding listen once those vocals become accustomed to. Want proof? Look no further than track 4, the aptly titled ‘Line & Sinker’, which begins with Kowalewicz exaggeratingly screaming “What you see is what you get”, before the backing vocals come in with the catchy line of “fishing for the answer with a line and sinker”. In then settling down and building back up to its chorus, the piece literally reels you in hook, like and sinker. Vocally similar is opener ‘How It Goes’, which after an ominously effective beginning explodes aggressively to belie the poppy melodies which are still interspersed throughout it.

As a testament to the depth and lack of filler on this debut LP, one could reasonably consider either or both of these strong cuts to not be included amongst the album’s strongest half of tracks. Lead single ‘Try Honesty’ is clearly a highlight, with its fantastically layered and varied guitar-work building up to a super infectious call and response chorus. 3rd single ‘River Below’ then uses those same call and response vocals during the verses, while 2nd single ‘The Ex’ delivers a superb sing-along chorus that any pop artist would kill to perform.

Presuming the vocals can be overcome, searching out weaknesses on ‘Billy Talent’ is a difficult task. One could argue that most songs are variations on the same theme, yet the band does add subtle and sufficient variation. ‘Lies’ and ‘Standing in the Rain’ contain more of an alt-rock feel, while ‘Voices of Violence’ fittingly increases the pace to make for one hell of a satisfying closer. Meanwhile, the closest thing to a ballad is penultimate track and 4th single ‘Nothing To Lose’, which works a treat since Kowalewicz delivers his lines concerning childhood ostracism so convincingly. For the most part, the often relatable lyrics are indeed strong, with overcoming personal adversity clearly a common theme.

For what is basically a punk band, Billy Talent is one tight unit musically. The rhythm section of Jon Gallant and Aaron Solowoniuk consistently provide a strong back-bone, while lone guitarist Ian D’Sa often sounds as if he is doing the work of at least two men. Tracks such as ‘Living in the Shadows’ and ‘Prisoner of Today’ constantly shift tempos and use varying techniques throughout to keep them interesting, while ‘Cut The Curtains’ proves that he can also handle a thick crunching riff and a neat little solo. When all this is combined with fantastic backing vocals (on every song) by D’Sa and bassist Gallant, it really does make for an accomplished package overall.

So f**k first impressions. Do whatever you need to do to overcome Ben Kowalewicz’s vocals and put aside your distaste for any kind of music which leans towards the poppy side. There is simply too much on offer here throughout Billy Talent’s self-titled debut LP to miss out. As a famous Australian music reviewer used to say; “Do yourself a favour” and allow yourself to get hooked. Whether it is by the catchy choruses, relatable lyrics, fist-pumping sing-alongs, tight musicianship or all of the above, you won’t regret it.

Recommended Tracks: Try Honesty, The Ex, Nothing To Lose, River Below & Line and Sinker.



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user ratings (830)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

“WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET”

AtavanHalen
May 7th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

When the singer of this band talks, he sounds like Terrence and Phillip.

Douglas
May 7th 2009



9061 Comments


Baha.

F**k first impressions!




DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Haha DavID. I'd never actually thought of that, but now you mention it, you're right. Poor bugger has a strange voice. Then again, "poor" may be an unwise choice of words.

Dougie, if you have yet to hear these guys, I think you will like them. While the vocals are not exactly similar to Tim McIlrath, the hooks are not so dissimilar. Just remember to f**k first impressions.

Douglas
May 7th 2009



9061 Comments


I may have to add it to my long list of music recs!

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yep, we've all got a long list, but I sense yours is getting out of control.

Douglas
May 7th 2009



9061 Comments


Very much so! The first second I came on this site I was rec'd 10 albums.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Haha. I can rec you a few more: Hysteria, Pyromania, Adrenalize...

Nah seriously, I think you will like this. Put it this way, it will be one way or the other; You will either love it or hate it. So freakin' catchy!

willfellmarsy
May 7th 2009



3849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fucking awesome review for a fucking awesome album...i liked the vocals at first, but was more pulled in by the "One-arm scissor"-ish opening to try honesty...prisoner of today, how it goes, and cut the curtain are my faves...i la la love theis band...Beach Balls is probably their best song tho and even their pez stuff is alrite...review brought back memories of one of my faves...there is no doubt ud throw ur inbox out...

Douglas
May 7th 2009



9061 Comments


No Def Leppard Daveyboy.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

No need to fuck!ng swear William... Although since your comments are positive towards my review, I will forgive you. Thanks mate.

'Try Honesty' was the song that won me over, especially the backing vocals to it. The way you have thrown in a lyric is exactly what the band do so well; Get one line stuck in your head. After seeing them live 2 months ago, I had the entire chorus of 'Red Flag' in my head for weeks.

BUT... believe it or not, I have not even heard 'Beach Ball'. Was that from their Pez days?



This Message Edited On 05.07.09

willfellmarsy
May 7th 2009



3849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

na, i think it was in a soundtrack but i'm not sure...it got all my friends into them and one day they played it and i was like, is that billy talent? And then we all found a pleasure none knew we shared...i was surprised with how good the follow-up to this was...it's not as good, but they struck me as a one album band and i was pleasantly surprised...any word on their next? And i really hope it's called Billy Talent III

AtavanHalen
May 7th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I missed BT to see Rival Schools at Soundwave. But that was well worth it.
Champ Kind, you should listen to them; if you like early Jimmy Eat then you'll probably like it.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ok William, I will have to go searching for 'Beach Balls'. I will review the follow-up album some time next week so as to bring back a few more memories for you.

As for their next album, it will be out in June some time. I recall that since I will be away at the time of its release. And yes, I believe it will be called 'Billy Talent III'.

Yeah DavID, I was going to give Rival Schools a listen before SoundWave but ran out of time. I like 'Bleed American' era JEWorld, better than their super early stuff. But it still sounds like it is very much worth a listen.

As for seeing Billy Talent live, you will have another chance around August/September if the rumours/reports are true.

AtavanHalen
May 7th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I figured they'd be back to promote BTIII so will consider seeing them then.
Until then, your homework for the week is Rival Schools - United By Fate.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

My homework this week is: Things to do in London!

Just checked up the release date of the new album and it's actually July-13. More details at www.billytalent.com


AtavanHalen
May 7th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Things to do in London:
Lily Allen

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hahahaha. You got her number, have you?

AtavanHalen
May 7th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

PM me for more details (taps nose)

Douglas
May 7th 2009



9061 Comments


Things to do in London:
Lily Allen


That is all



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