Release Date: Sep 22, 2009
Record label: Roadrunner
Genre(s): Rock, Punk
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.
Looks like Billy Talent landed that big American producer often sought by successful Canadian bands hoping to get to the next level (i.e., cracking the U.S. market). Brendan O'Brien, best known for his continuous work with Pearl Jam and Springsteen, takes over from Gavin Brown on Billy's third s/t offering, and there's some noticeable dulling of the edges here.
Two albums into their career, energetic Canadian modern rock purveyors Billy Talent already find themselves with little to prove in their home country. The group is unerringly popular, with two multiplatinum records, many successful rock radio singles, and multiple Juno Awards. Like so many popular Canuck acts, this success has not translated into the US market, and perhaps it’s not worth expending too much effort considering the reasons for this.
Whilst playing Guitar Hero for the first time last week, I suddenly became overwhelmed by a unyielding sense of shame. I said to myself: "I am a twenty five year old man pretending to play a plastic guitar." During a struggle through ‘Misery Business’ by Paramore I thought, "well I suppose at least I’m not in a band playing this pop-punk shit live. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to be in my 20s and earnestly sing songs about how much I want to feed Robert Pattinson my filthy pretzel?" Billy Talent have been chasing the game since the mid Nineties, though back then they were attempting to ape such luminaries as Sublime, No Doubt and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones by playing a horrific brand of ska under the name of Pezz.