Adding swampy blues-rock and down-home muscle riffs to their punk-pop template, Billy Talent's third album, aptly titled Billy Talent III, owes as much to Zeppelin rock stomps as it does to latter-day Green Day. In the start of "Rusted from the Rain," vocalist Ben Kowalewicz sounds like a dead ringer for Billie Joe Armstrong in "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," but by the grungy, drop-D chorus of "Crush me like a flower, rusted in the rain/Strip me of my power, beat me with a chain" bombast kicks in and it's more like Jeff Buckley fronting Soundgarden. If it sounds like the Ontario quartet has replaced their Buzzcocks-influenced art-punk roots, it's because they have. It's a questionable move, but songs like "Tears into Wine" show that Billy Talent's venture into biting arena rock shows promise. While the songs are slicker and less snide, they're surely not obvious or easily calculated. The group's still too beefy and weird to fit the emo-pop label. It's common for punk groups to turn face and go this softer route, and while Billy Talent might be on this path, especially with Warped Tour gigs, for now it seems like they're intent on carving their own niche. The problem is that the music often becomes pulled in too many directions. When they try their hand at reggae-rock in the "Can't Stand Losing You"-reminiscent "Diamond in a Landmine" it sounds forced, and "The Dead Can't Testify" includes a confusing juxtaposition of minstrel hammerchord and metal grooves. Strangely though, when they stretch farthest away from their origins, as they do on the plodding power ballad "Sudden Movements," their sound takes a turn for the best.
Billy Talent III Review
by Jason Lymangrover