Review Summary: Billy Talent III is a fusion of different elements. Their new sounds boast a fuller guitar line, but, sadly, less anger and strength than their previous work.
Billy Talent I and Billy Talent II set the stage for a new sound that blended punk, alternative, and even metal. Billy Talent III seems to continue along a similar line, but sounds somewhat diluted, perhaps due to the fact that the sound is rather forced. Although it is definitely darker that the previous album, it lacks the variety or connectivity that Billy Talent has always been good at.
The first track, "Devil on My Shoulder", sets a high standard for the rest of the album. The masterful guitar work of Ian D'Sa is prevalent in the entire album, notably in this song. The solos throughout Billy Talent III are impressive, and the excessive stress on the guitar line leaves vocals that do not match up to Ben Kowalewicz's earlier efforts. Lyrically, this is Billy Talent's weakest point. Again, it seems forced, as if they were just thrown in as an afterthought.
Besides arguably "Rusted from the Rain", there are no real slow or mellow songs on the album. It seems as if they want to recycle an idea derived from a combination of their first two albums over and over. If indeed that were their intention, they succeeded. There are significantly more "throwaway" songs on this album - what's more, there are only eleven songs, so after finishing listening to the album, you feel as if something was removed. Many good albums have few songs, but they require variety, and it manages to touch every point of the artist's range. Billy Talent's third album doesn't do that. Instead, we have many ideas repeated over and over.
About now, you're probably wondering why I think this album is so bad - it's not. In fact, it has many moments that shine. There are neo-punk songs such as "Turn Your Back" and great crunchy parts in songs like "Tears Into Wine" and "Pocketful of Dreams", the latter of which has System of a Down influence, vocally. The backup vocals are not as present on this album, but that isn't saying much. D'Sa screams and sings, and combined with Jon Gallant's bassline and Aaron Solowoniuk's drums, Billy Talent III is a nice package to have. And while it doesn't meet our (or at least my) expectations, it definitely is worth a listen.
"Devil on My Shoulder"
"Tears Into Wine"
"Turn Your Back"