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Billy Talent II

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tracklist

contributors

Artist: Billy Talent
Illustrator: Henry Fong
Label: Atlantic
Illustrator: Kim Kinakin

Review

With no desire to ease fans into the explosive terrain of II, Billy Talent immediately detonate the ominous "Devil in a Midnight Mass" with an electrified energy that most bands need cases of Red Bull (or actual electrocution) to pull off convincingly. Presided over by the furiously snotty vocal cords of Ben Kowalewicz -- who can yelp, sing, and scream with the best of them -- the subsequent "Red Flag" is in-your-face, raised-fist anthemic with a savage capital "A," while "Worker Bees" uses a militaristic backdrop in a song that could easily be a castoff from Sum 41's Chuck. Not even a passing whiff of pretension or scenester posturing is perceptible in the ranks of Billy Talent. One can assume their relentless quest for pure catharsis is a product of being fed up with the often hollow nature of passing music trends, from which the band successfully separates itself. They want to put the heart back in rock and, well, they mean it. Maxed-out energy levels are the first tipoff, but then "Where Is the Line?" explicitly spells it out ("Magazines from overseas won't teach you how to feel/They trade in their hearts for indie rock charts...") over curt riffing and assertive rhythms. These guys spell business, packing muscular guitars and impassioned shrieks to prove it to the watered-down punk revival crowd of 2006. Even when the band relatively slows things down for a stretch near the middle, every song pushes full steam ahead with precise, spanking-clean playing and multiple vocal attacks. "The Navy Song" steadily rolls forward alongside Aaron Solowoniuk's unwavering drum kit, and even standard breakup songs ("Perfect World") get a swift kick in the pants, while never losing the band's ever-present cynicism. And icing the already delicious cake further is the liner-note inclusion of engaging artwork matched up to each song courtesy of Henry Fong. There's just so much passion packed in here that Billy Talent easily blaze through almost 50 minutes -- which could be a marathon for some ADD-riddled listeners, but somehow isn't -- with compelling dexterity and power. ~ Corey Apar