Release Date: Jul 29, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk Revival, Punk-Pop
Thirteen years after their breakthrough debut, Billy Talent are hungrier than ever on their fifth album, Afraid of Heights. Produced by guitarist Ian D'Sa and written by D'Sa and frontman Ben Kowalewicz, Afraid of Heights captures the best parts of the Canadian quartet's legacy, executing a perfect balance between the catchy anthems of Billy Talent I and II and the gravity of Dead Silence. Heights also marks the first album without drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, who was forced to the sidelines after a flare-up of his multiple sclerosis.
Five albums in and still going strong. Five studio albums in and it’s impossible to mistake Billy Talent for anyone else.‘Afraid Of Heights’ seamlessly fits in alongside their back catalogue and is a showcase of a band playing to their strengths. The trebled-up angular riffs of ‘The Crutch’ and ‘February Winds’ are instantly recognisable as the work of axeman Ian D’Sa, while Ben Kowalewicz’s characteristic yells lead the way on ‘Louder Than The DJ’ and ‘Time-Bomb Ticking Away’.It’s a piercing combo that’s abrasive at times, but hey, this is Billy Talent doing what Billy Talent do best.
The Canadian rockers of Billy Talent started their collective lifespan as Pezz — musically scattered, fun-loving, a bit of ska here, a bit of rap there — until copyright forced a name change, while evolution tightened performances into a pleasantly abrasive, treble-laden sonic swirl. A fleeting glance and you might mistake Billy Talent for another emo addition to the hardcore scene, but Billy Talent’s discography touches upon everything from pedophilic priesthood (“Devil in a Midnight Mass”), bullying (“Nothing to Lose”), toxic relationships (“This Suffering”), keeping your enemies closer (“Covered in Cowardice”), and simply accepting your place as a scapegoat (“The Dead Can’t Testify”). It might be more apt to consider Billy Talent a less obliquely political Anti-Flag, an act with whom they’ve collaborated.
The 49th parallel might be the bane of Billy Talent’s existence. The alt-rock quartet is undeniably massive in their homeland of Canada, with all four of their previous albums having been certified platinum or higher, and their past three LPs debuting at number one on the Canadian charts. Yet as soon as Billy Talent enters into the United States, their stock drops considerably, with the band slumming it in small-capacity club tours and peaking at No.