Review Summary: Mature? No. Any good? Yes.
Billy Talent had been enjoying success for quite some while before this album came out and it's easy to see why. The band had a knack for memorable choruses and riffs (courtesy of Benjamin Kowalewicz and Ian D'Sa respectively) right from the start with Billy Talent I producing quality single material such as Try Honesty for people to latch onto and they certainly didn't go on to lose that quality, with Billy Talent II being an even bigger hit and spawning their biggest hits still in the form of Red Flag and Fallen Leaves. Billy Talent III, while perhaps not receiving the kind of praise the band may have wanted as it received a mixed reaction can surely not be considered a failure as album sales weren't exactly disappointing, especially in days where releasing an album that actually makes up the money it cost to create and release in sales is considered a big achievement. Dead Silence, outside of the obvious change in album title trend also, according to the band, signalled a change in style for them with Dead Silence being more mature and darker compared to their previous output and also because Ian took the helm on producing this one.
So is it more mature, more adult" No, is the quick answer to the that particular question and its probably best to get that issue out of the way so I can concentrate on reviewing actual songs. Arguably some of it deals with more depressing themes than on their numbered albums but come on, their third album contained White Sparrows which while perhaps not exactly My Dying Bride certainly wasn't a walk through the sunny park of life either and there were not any parts on this album that particularly topped that for me. The other excuse for claiming this is a more mature album is that it begins with a sparse acoustic guitar piece which features ticking and both a male and female vocalist called Lonely Road To Absolution but having a short unhappy songs about angels falling to the ground doesn't really make your album deeper and the whole thing is kind of blunted by the fact that the next song is called Viking Death March.
But enough calling out the essential 'this album is so much more complex and different form all our other ones' bull*** as Talent are definitely not the only perpetrators of that crime (*cough* Amon Amarth *cough*) and in the end the album should be judged on the quality of its songs and the Billy Talent crew once again do not fail to impress. While Viking Death March is dent it is Surprise Surprise that is the first indicator that the band have not lost their touch with a really neat solo and possibly the best section in a Billy Talent song in the form of the 'upper class daughters' bridge with a startlingly catchy vocal line and some pretty sweet cowbell. If nothing about this bridge impresses you then that probably makes you technically dead. Songs after that fare well too with Running Across The Tracks and Love Was Still Around boasting the strong guitar work and sing-along vocal parts that you expect from the band. As previously mentioned Ian's guitar work is nothing to be ignored as he has a talent (Yeah *** you, that made me chuckle) for using jazzier chords than aren't normally used in this kind of music and they do spring up pleasingly often on the album with some newer interesting parts such as the start to Don't Count On The Wicked with its hooky use of harmonics.
One of the things most original about the bands sound and also the thing that most consistently turns people of the band are Bens vocals as he has always employed quite a high pitched and arguably quite a nasal vocal sound and while some people find this off-putting I personally find that it works to the bands advantage and that they gain quite a lot of their personality through his unique singing. And also, with songs this good it wouldn't matter if he sung all the songs in the style of Rod Stewart or Bob Dylan (though obviously it would). A bit of a criticism I do have however is about the choruses which employ another favourite of Billy Talent's the sing-shout play off where Ben will sing a line and there will be gang vocals shouting back at him in return, these do work well and have done so on all of their records but the band seem overly aware of this as maybe a few too many songs do use it as it feels slightly tired by the end. With a different producer I expected the album to have a pretty different sound too it but Ian must have learnt a lot from their previous producer as this is basically identical to their previous sound. That is certainly not a bad thing however as the production is very good giving good exposure to all of the instruments simultaneously. I have focused mainly on guitar and vocals in this review and that is for the reason that the album musically focuses on them as well. The drumming is good and provides a strong backbone for the songs and the bass does the same but I don't remember any particular strong moments for either of those instruments, this is very much the Ben and Ian show.
All in all, if you are a fan of Billy Talent you have probably already picked up this album and are enjoying it thoroughly, this is an album of strong song writing by a band with great chemistry that while certainly not deviating from the rock formula completely has the decency to bring a few new ideas into their music. If you are a fan of rock music and you have not given the band a listen (in which case, seriously") then do so now and enjoy the wealth of good material that this band has already crafted.