Billy Talent

Dead Silence

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Having rounded out its trilogy of self-titled albums with 2009's Billy III, Toronto's Billy Talent starts fresh with 2012's Dead Silence. Although the band had already explored a mix of pop-punk, emo-rock, post-hardcore, and classic rock on Billy III, Dead Silence seems to further balance these sounds with a deft exuberance. Overall, the sound on Dead Silence isn't that different from the band's previous work, but is certainly some of the best work they've done. This is at least in part due to the strong social and political messages woven throughout the album. While the band has always espoused a kind of anti-authoritarian stance, on Dead Silence there is a bit more of a pointed socio-political angle, and cuts like the strident lead-off single "Viking Death March," "Surprise Surprise," and "Crooked Minds" find the band tackling such themes as religious extremism, corporate corruption, pollution, and the crass commercialization of culture; whether it be clothes, music, or political views. On “Surprise Surprise,” lead singer Ben Kowalewicz sneers, ”Oh you upper class daughters, and working class sons/It's hard to save a dollar the way the world runs/We got a counterculture you can buy off a shelf/If you're losing your identity, trust somebody else.” In fact, Kowalewicz has never sounded more the snotty and literate punk rock diva as he does here, and the album finds him making the most of his wicked vocal snarl, and gigantic, David Bowie-meets-Billie Joe Armstrong yawp. On a similarly impressive note, guitarist Ian D'Sa further reveals himself to be an adept hard rock guitarist, as songs like "Running Across the Tracks" and "Love Was Still Around" split the difference between the hard rock of AC/DC's Angus Young and the angular, metal-influenced style of Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello. And it’s not just the more propulsive rock moments that grab you here. The melodic, ‘60s pop-sounding "Stand Up and Run” proves the band has as much of a knack for pop craftsmanship as punk irreverence. Ultimately, if Billy Talent was working through its influences on Billy I , II, and III, then with Dead Silence, the band has finally figured out its own perfect blend.

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