Billy Talent
Billy Talent III


2.0
poor

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
July 15th, 2009 | 34 replies | 21,999 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It would be nice if Billy Talent actually DID SOMETHING.

You should never try to freeze culture ... Take your older brother’s hand-me-down jacket and re-style it, re-fashion it to the point where it becomes your own. But don’t just regurgitate creative history ... the only thing that you can do to music that will damage it is not change it.


The above quote is an edited extract from the complete title of Chumbawumba's 2008 album, The Boy Bands Have Won. While the target in this case is clearly the musical art form as a whole, the idea that stagnation is the only real form of failure seems accurate on a number of more immediate levels too. In terms of genre, for example, 2009 saw the rise to notoriety of a band called brokeNCYDE, and while by all critical accounts the entire concept of 'crunkcore' is unpleasant to the human ear, it's impossible to deny that some sort of progress has been made somewhere along the line: to put it simply, in some ways it's easy (and admirable?) to try new things because at the very least you'll learn what doesn't work. When you get down to the level of individual bands, though, the dynamic changes slightly, since a fanbase is more likely to be put off future releases if everything goes horribly. But, as Chumbawumba point out so well, the alternative is staying exactly where you are, and it's no great surprise that some of the world's best-loved bands are those with a wide variety of sounds in their back catalogue.

By now you can probably tell where this is leading; the destination, metaphorically speaking, is a dusty crossroads in the middle of nowhere, at which Billy Talent's 4 members sit not only indecisive but apparently with no desire to pick a direction either. The lead single from their third 'volume' was the confusing, mid-tempo alt-rocker Rusted From The Rain, but at the very least it was something a little more mature and deliberated from a band known for their reckless abandon in producing breathless pop-punk. But that's where the diversity (for want of a better word - Rusted is hardly an enormous departure from the band's sound) stops.

Although typically unique, Kowalewicz's voice no longer holds the shock value it used to, and here he lends his vocals to an unreasonable number of filler tracks, sometimes (Tears Into Wine) serving as the only redeeming feature. The rhythm section is poor, plodding along on tracks like The Dead Can't Testify without so much as a whisper of anything original or conducive to climax; indeed, outside of the excellent drumming on Saint Veronika the crescendos and tension are left to lead guitarist D'Sa and Kowalewicz to forge between themselves. While they succeed occasionally - Diamond On A Landmine and Sudden Movement the two decent examples - far too many songs sink into mediocrity. If there's one major praise to be heaped on this record it's found in the superb guitar riffs and solos sprinkled throughout. While the chords are fairly standard fare, D'Sa has a knack for penning a killer line and it's his sense of atmosphere and fun that keep the record on its feet most of the time.

But Billy Talent aren't really the type of band that can get by solely on the amount of fun they inspire, at least not any more; the traditional imagery that runs through this record's lyricism alone is enough to prove that they take themselves fairly seriously, and a band that wants to pull off that kind of personality has to do a lot better than this musically. The lack of progression is less worrying than the sub-standard songwriting and dull, samey aesthetics that result in a Billy Talent album which fails to pack any sort of punch despite rarely being offensively bad. What started off as a signature sound is fast becoming stale and it's questionable for the first time whether Canada's punk kids have the ability or drive to freshen it up. Billy Talent III is an incredibly appropriate title for the simple reason that it sounds like the last drops being squeezed out of a finite and predictable formula with nothing new to keep your attention. Put it this way: if their next record is called Billy Talent IV, you'll have to believe they're starting to take the piss.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
July 15th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

hell yeah referencing brokencyde is the shit

Douglas
July 15th 2009



8984 Comments


Haha swell review. Yet to listen, not sure I will bother now.

Waior
July 15th 2009



11420 Comments


Reviews really great, but I can't help but feel a bit odd seeing brokenCYDE and Chumbawumba mentioned in the introductory paragraph of a Billy Talent review... solid work though.

Knott-
Emeritus
July 15th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I delved deep into my mind for the worst example of experimental music I could remember from forever.

Plus the Chumbawumba quote rules.

The boy bands have won, and all the copyists and the tribute bands and the TV talent show producers have won, if we allow our culture to be shaped by mimicry, whether from lack of ideas or from exaggerated respect. You should never try to freeze culture. What you can do is recycle that culture. Take your older brother’s hand-me-down jacket and re-style it, re-fashion it to the point where it becomes your own. But don’t just regurgitate creative history, or hold art and music and literature as fixed, untouchable and kept under glass. The people who try to ‘guard’ any particular form of music are, like the copyists and manufactured bands, doing it the worst disservice, because the only thing that you can do to music that will damage it is not change it, not make it your own. Because then it dies, then it’s over, then it’s done, and the boy bands have won.


review was hard to write, probably because it's one hell of an irritating album to have on in the background as you do so.

Waior
July 15th 2009



11420 Comments


That's actually a great quote that I'll have to copy/paste into my mind.

review was hard to write, probably because it's one hell of an irritating album to have on in the background as you do so.


I find the same thing to be true with me; I get so overwrought with the terribleness of the music to form a coherent sentence. However, this review reads beyond excellently, so you haven't a trouble in the world.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2009



20810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This review makes me sad. I wanted this album to be good.

Just so I can know whether to trust your opinion Adam (haha... just kidding, because I already do), what do you roughly rate their first 2 albums?

Knott-
Emeritus
July 15th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

urgh, i really need to update my ratings!

i wanted this to be good too; i have both their first records as 4s, the first being sliiiiiiiightly weaker. like i say, the problem with this is not just one of a lack of progression/development (although that's pretty crippling); the material doesn't live up in the slightest.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2009



20810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

F**k, I was sort of hoping you didn't like the first 2 albums that much.

I may now have to fall back into my mainstream rock liking mode.

Knott-
Emeritus
July 15th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

hahaha.

Seeing as you like the band there are a few tracks worth checking out at least. Saint Veronika is fantastic; Diamond On A Landmine I enjoy; Pocketful Of Dreams also.

FistfulOfSteel
July 16th 2009



894 Comments


good review and i agree with you completely.

side note: ben kowalewicz is my second cousin. kinda cool i guess?

willfellmarsy
July 16th 2009



3844 Comments


paragraphs esta tu amigo...

Knott-
Emeritus
July 16th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

your second cousin? i'll bet you never have to ask who he is when he calls ^^

yay fanboy negs

PuddlesPuddles
July 16th 2009



4693 Comments


the fuck negged this?

FistfulOfSteel
July 16th 2009



894 Comments


your second cousin? i'll bet you never have to ask who he is when he calls ^^


in all honesty, i've only met him once in my life. his father is married to my aunt, whom i never ever see. so i don't think it qualifies as a second cousin or anything, just like a step cousin or something?

regardless, their first album was great for some time, but the ideas they've recycled get old after a while.

shindip
July 16th 2009



3536 Comments


I am considering get this as a guilty pleasure. Is it catchy and stuff?

Knott-
Emeritus
July 17th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

not guilty pleasure material, i don't think, or i'd have had a hard time giving it a 2. it's catchy in places but the hooks are watered down and weak. nowhere CLOSE to as catchy as 1 or II, but fans of those albums will probably find something to sing along to on here.

raggedragamuffin
July 29th 2009



689 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i remember reading somewhere that this was supposed to come with guitar tabs? was that true?
d'sa has some really interesting riffs on the previous albums, and you seem to view the guitar overall as somewhat of a redeeming point on the album, so it would be cool to have those.
regardless, i'll probably have to get this at some point because i liked the first 2 albums so much, no matter how disappointed i expect to be.

Knott-
Emeritus
July 29th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

err yeah Guitar Villains or something

Knott-
Emeritus
July 29th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

and yea the guitars are the best bit of the record by far

mutatedfreek
July 29th 2009



7351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

guitar villains...pfffft



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