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Album of the Week: Billy Talent - Crisis of Faith (January 28th 2022)


Preface:

When singer "Benjamin Kowalewicz" and bassist "Jonathan Gallant" met guitarist "Ian D'Sa" and drummer "Aaron Solowoniuk" at a band competition in the 90s, no one suspected that with this meeting one of the greatest rock bands of our time was born. Under the name "Pezz" the four Canadian musicians released their first album "Watoosh!" on their own in 1998. A year later, due to some disagreements with a band of the same name, they changed their name to "Billy Talent". Only a short time later the producer of the biggest rock radio show in Toronto got them a record deal with "Warner-Records". The first 3 studio albums were released between 2002 and 2008 and brought the Canadian band international fame and popularity with songs like (Try Honesty, Fallen Leaves, Devil in a Midnight Mass, Devil on my Shoulder, Rusted from the Rain). In 2012, "Dead Silence", the fourth studio album was released, followed by "Hits" in 2014 and the fifth long player "Afraid of Heights" a year later. Shortly after, the original drummer left the band due to a severe MS disease and was replaced by "Alexisonfire drummer Jordan Hastings".

With the release of their latest work "Crisis of Faith" the band started already in November 2019 with "Forgiveness I+II" and released a total of 3 more singles (January 2020 "Reckless Paradise" / April 2020 "I beg to Differ" / September 2021 "End of Me feat. Rivers Cuomo from Weezer") until the end of 2021. Since 28.01.2022 the whole album is finally available and shows some new facets of the four musicians. But long story short, let's take a look at the latest work of "Billy Talent".


Review:

With hihat, cutted rims and a WahWah on the guitar, "Forgiveness I+II" opens the new "Billy Talent" LP in an unusual experimental way. A gritty bass brings the prelude, before we get the full frequency spectrum and the show begins. And already I get what I appreciate so much about this band: The songs tell a story and for this one two story videos were shot at once. With 6:41 the longest track in the band's history so far, it is divided into two sections. While the track offers everything you could wish for, from atmospheric buildup to "Billy Talent" typical and grandiose choruses - By the Way, my absolute favorite chorus on the album - the entire sound turns around completely from 3:44 and seems more like a dream, slightly diffuse and spherical. I become really bright-eyed as, felt for the first time in a song of the Canadians, horns appear. "Exciting new elements" I think to myself and let myself be carried again by this "dreamy" mood, which is underlined by a slightly washed-out phaser effect on the voice, and feel partly as if I were just listening to smooth bar jazz. The dreamy pads fade away and while I pause for a moment, the next track starts.

"Reckless Paradise" sounds, feels and is simply "Billy Talent" as I know and love them from start to finish. Punky and rebellious, the song represents an appeal to society. It criticizes our recklessness with our "luxurious/paradise" life. "Living a reckless paradise, The house is burning, trapped inside..." ON POINT!

The next track starts and I instantl end up in the typical "Summer-Sun-Festival-Mood" in which this band always puts me. "I Beg to Differ (This will get Better)" is simply a beautiful "Billy Talent"-typical rock ballad that makes you want summer, sun, fellowship, or just more. And just like its predecessor, the guitar work of "Ian D'Sa" shines here and gives the song the typical flair of the band. Lyrically, the song is very clearly directed at all those people who lose themselves in from time to time and gives new courage to them . Very nice work! I LIKE!

On to number 4 and thus to the first song of the LP that was not a single. "The Wolf" is the name of it and it begins melancholic and worn. Quite soon it shows itself in a slightly wistful, but still conciliatory garb. Just as if it was about a painful farewell with which one has inevitably arranged and reconciled. This is how I imagine the last words to a loved one. Floating between minor and major, the song perfectly underlines this "wistful peace". It builds and builds until the end and ends with strings underpinned in a beautiful crescendo.

"Reactor" starts half-time in mid-tempo with chord scrubbing. At this point I must openly confess that this is the only song on the album that does not pick me up personally because of its repetitive flow. Nevertheless, we are still talking about solid songwriting.

The somewhat worn mood of the last two songs is swept away right at the beginning of the sixth number of the long-player. Energetic, fast and with a strong punk note, "Judged" comes around the corner and could easily end up in the soundtrack of a "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" or any other skate game. Even though the number doesn't impress with dynamic quantum leaps, it still convinces me with its energetic mood and carries me along. Although this will certainly not be a long-lasting hit, but for gambling, skating or beating like crazy on a punching bag to get rid of pent-up aggression, the number serves all the time.

Simple, powerful and rousing! That's all it needs from time to time.

HOOKALERT! "Hanging out with all the wrong People" is a catchy tune as it use to be. Lyrically and melodically, the hook line stays in my head long after listening to the album. I, as a little dynamics freak perform a real dance of joy during this song, because I hear a typical Billy Talent song again. Awesome guitar work, nice riffing, nice rhythm and excellent lyrical and vocal work! And also here I like (as mentioned above) that every song of "Billy Talent" always tells a story. Thus, a slightly sad-dramatic-chaotic feeling arises for me in this number and fittingly, the tragic story of a young man is told, who unfortunately had the wrong friends. But the title already tells that very clearly.

We come to the eighth song and thus to the next single release of the album. With "End of Me" "Billy Talent" present us for the first time in their career a guest musician and no less than "Rivers Cuomo", also known as the singer of the band "Weezer". Already after a few bars I am sure that this is my personal favorite of the album. Everything is perfect here for me! But I would especially like to emphasize the guitar work. GREAT WOR! Again, the story of the song is perfectly implemented sonically and is still enriched by the vocal color of the guest singer. Absolutely coherent overall concept, which reflects the slightly quirky, overwhelmed and discreetly delivered mood or situation in which you find yourself when you are hopelessly in love with someone but know exactly that this love affair has no future. CHAPEAU!

Whoever has solved the love thing for himself, probably has "One Less Problem". And exactly this is the title of the next song, which at the beginning actually seems as if the topic "being hopelessly in love" has been solved and now one is in a kind of upbeat mood. But far from it. With a hopeless love affair, the song has nothing to do. Rather, the four musicians criticize the mentality of "symptom-fighting" which is quite widespread in our society. Thereby they use very nice metaphors to illustrate how senseless pure symptom fighting is, without the willingness to fix the cause. Lines like "You take the pill but you can't relax, You break it off but you still feel trapped" describe very aptly in which situation large parts of our society find themselves and are then perfectly complemented by a hidden solution or a thought-provoking "And if I fail, guess I'll learn some more, yeah". If you listen closely, you will definitely start to think, because in the end it is always about what we can learn from our experiences and not about how to get rid of unpleasant symptoms as quickly and easily as possible. Powerful song, which just shines through its very clear message and the appropriate staging!

With "For You" we come to the last and again to a rather atypical song for the 4 alternative rockers. Very poppy influences make this track a Hook and at the same time also a kind of hymn. As the title already suggests, this is about love confession. Thereby the skillful change between slightly melancholic and uplifting vibes makes this track, despite its simplicity, so interesting and a skillful conclusion of the new LP. I can very well imagine this becoming a live anthem. After 3:12, the last track is over and I let everything work again.


Conclusion:

With their sixth studio album, the four guys of "Billy Talent" have again created some excellent songs. The guitar work stands out for me, just like the vocal work most and makes for me in sum the so popular sound of the band. With one small exception, all the songs on the LP pick me up and tell a story - just the way I love it - that is reflected in all facets of the respective work. The new musical influences also suit the quartet very well and keep the LP exciting. In summary, I can recommend the disc without exception to anyone who likes varied alternative punk rock and has always enjoyed listening to "Billy Talent". But also newcomers and fans of more experimental styles will definitely get their money's worth on this album.


My album of the week

"BILLY TALENT - CRISIS OF FAITH"




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