Many who were born in the late 80ies and early 90ies have been accompanied by Billy Talent all the way through their puberty. Good news, they`re back and released their new album only today.
The mainstream was introduced to (or at least noticed) Billy Talent through their probably most successful song Surrender. Today, on 29th of July 2016 their new album Afraid of Heights was released and even though having to manage without their drummer Aaron Solowoniuk (who is represented for the moment by Alexisonfire`s Jordan Hastings due to Solowoniuks multiple sclerosis) the band produced one of their most aggressive and most critical works ever.
The band took two years to work on the record an that becomes noticeable. Not only is the group, that identifies as punk although sometimes slipping into alternative styles, happy to try out new things, they also took a good glance at the world while working on the album, they shook their heads and commented on the things they saw through Afraid Of Heights. More than ever they focus on big problems, like the refugee crisis, the US elections or gun lobbying in the States. Just like we expect from Billy Talent, they find a direct and angry voice to express their resentment. All of that although being in their 40ies already.
Tracks like Big Red Gun, Ghost Boat Of Cannibal Rats (whicht seems to be a hint on a russian ghost ship that was supposed to be sailing near the UK, occupied only by cannibal rats; I think, I don`t need to mark out the symbolism in here any further), Horses & Chariots or This Is Our War point out social and political deficiencies we have to face today in a harsh and caustic way. Even though the group is of course mainly focusing on the american – canadian problems here, a european can`t fail to notice similarities. Political segregation of whole nations due to populist political leaders is a theme almost everyone in Europe should be able to identify with and Billy Talent actually manages to frame protest songs that surpass their original setting.
However, it wouldn`t be Billy Talent, if there wasn`t some fun in between all the seriousness. There is their hymn to old school „handmade“ rock music Louder Than The DJ for example. This got its own irony, considering that the group is experimenting with sythesizers just a few tracks after. Anyways, the experiment pays off and the group`s own distinctive sound is enhanced by their innovations.
In Germany, the record was already compared to a stretched middle finger and even though the album is really aggressive and cutting in its formulations, the group leaves some room to the listener to process. Softer songs like Leave Them All Behind top the record off just like February Winds which, at first sight, seems to be quite unremarkable. However, this impression changes drastically after taking some time to look at the text, that adresses the refugee crisis and Western countries reaction to it. This track is actually one of the most interesting, in my opinion.
An album of protest songs, that`s what Billy Talent released today, even though being in an age you wouldn`t expect much innovation to happen. Every track is a call to action, to change what bothers you and to fight for the important things in life. A clear message is something that many musicians, exspecially in todays mainstream media fail to express. Still the canadian group succeeded without losing their unique sound in favor of deep texts.
Being a band for almost 25 years now obviously doesn`t stop those guys to develop further, to try out something new and to prove to those who believe that punk is dead, where its actual power lies.
If you are in the mood for the record now, you can listen to it right here: