Billy Talent – Billy Talent (2003)

TAR - Billy Talent main

 

A dear friend of mine has been badgering me for over a decade to listen to Billy Talent because simply, “they have great riffs.” Having not been sold on this band with those four words, I largely ignored his recommendation and their music and very soon began to grow a vile hatred for Billy Talent without having heard a single note, and all because I didn’t like this guy’s face.

TAR - Billy Talent member

I have no idea what he does in the band and nor do I care, but as the years dragged themselves by I soon forgot about this band that I had never took the time to listen to and thus retreated my unbridled fury towards them, until a few days ago when I agreed to listen and review to their first album. I was excited to do so too, having forgot their band branding and just about remembering their name like a fading power chord in a wind tunnel of house music.
I opened up Spotify, typed in their name and rapidly withered from within as I was greeting with what seems to be a promo shot from some awfully shit school play.

TAR- Billy Talent Spotify Header

 

And so I sit here now, reviewing their first album ‘Billy Talent’ as I type. My thoughts stumbling from my brain on to the internet, like a crestfallen clown half-heartedly pulling a string of once vibrant knotted hankies from his sleeve.

 

Billy Talent – Billy Talent (2003)

 

Track 1: This Is How It Goes

The intro started off like the band are clicking away at MIDI instruments on every available space on their respective tracks as it built up towards one of their famed riffs. My eyes began to roll into my head on their own will but then I became subtly surprised – the presumably main riff for this track wasn’t as terrible as the above guy’s image had led me to believe all these years; I rather liked it. Production was commercially clean and sterile (as back in those days this kind of music was actually played on the radio) and nothing was overbearing as some production techniques are for this genre of music… then the voice kicked in. Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what single shitty tree bands of this type would pluck their vocalists from back in the early 200o’s, but there really was a cut-along-the-lines archetype for lead singers of guitar-based bands.

A. Over pronounce words to the point of it changing your accent.
B. Standard-issue Emo haircut.
C. Have a whiney voice.

The first verse trundled along (back to sounding like staccato MIDI plucks) and the singer was trying his best; eventually the chorus came bustling through and smacked me right in the tits. I couldn’t for the life of me understand the lyrics nor nail down the melody as the singer opted to shriek his poetry like the maid from Tom and Jerry in a panic.

I managed to get to 1:12 of the opening track before having to pause this review to gather my thoughts. It’s a good little track to rock out to, but the singer made my ears bleed and my blood bleed. There are singers who can sing well and scream well and who know how to utilise each variant of their voice for when the songs requires (eg. Jamie Lenman from Reuben). If Billy Talent’s singer is committed to squeal his way through language for the rest of the album, I’m going to have a hard time.

Stand out lyric:

If you see me
On the corner
Will you stop or will you splash me

Track 2: Living In The Shadows

The second track opens, pleasantly reminding me of The Mars Volta, but then that bastard singer pierces the air with this paper-thin vocals, slicing through my speakers and stabbing my brain. I braced myself and got to the chorus where he squawks something indecipherable before saying something about living in the shadows. I had to stop at 0:52.

 

Stand out lyric:

Distant loud chuckles, keep me awake
Awkward instances won’t make you hip

Track 3: Try Honesty

The only song of Billy Talent that I remember from my youth and I kinda liked it then, and I really like it now. Very much inspired by At The Drive In (musically), I actually listened to this song all the way through, twice, and even added it to my current playlist, so kudos to my dear friend. The singer decided to not spend the majority of the track wooping his high frequency yells that obliterates my ear drums awakening my dull tinnitus which I was incredibly grateful for, although his lessened screeching could be a trap as we continue through to the next song.

Stand out lyric:

Hop in your dump truck
Reverse for good luck

Track 4: Line & Sinker

I was right. I skipped this track at 0:02 seconds because it opened with the shrillest of yelling, like a crying baby magnified. Not one to quit, I gave the song another go and stopped at 0:05. Over twice as long as the first time, and 4 times more than enough.

Stand out lyric:

Everybody needs some sympathy
Santa seemed to miss my chimney

Track 5: Lies

A poppy little number which at the time of writing (0:50) hasn’t had a single wail from the singer. Awesome! Shame the song is shite. Next!

Stand out lyric:

Inside an office, a fallen angel
A smilin’ buddha with snake eyes

Track 6: The Ex

Crunching through my speakers with a pop punk riff, not a great riff by any means, the verse begins and we hear the singer moan about his ex and how she tortured him and blah blah blah. An incredibly vanilla song – nothing about it says anything other than filler for what is currently a very crap sandwich.

Stand out lyric:

Well, I heard she’s great and her new boyfriend’s lame,
She can go to hell I’ll never be the same!

Track 7: River Below

The track started straight out of the traps with all guns blazing and it sounded very familiar to me. I spent a good chunk of the verse trying to put a finger on where I’ve heard before it then I finally used said finger to skip at 1:30 because I had heard enough. But as it turned out, my dear friend who prompted this review used to sing it at my face all the time during our misspent youth so going from his beautifully drunken renditions, I listened to the whole song and gave it the title of ‘second best song on the album’ afterwards.

Stand out lyric:

Rejected since day one
My name is bastard son

Track 8: Standing In The Rain

Another track that beings with all weapons armed. I was curious of the story of the song so I managed to get up to the end of the first chorus before the weighty need to skip the track took over. At least I think it was the chorus because it was too many words smashed in to a small timeframe with no real hook or melody. Anyways, I think this song was about a down-and-out prostitute, so there’s that for you.

Stand out lyric:

My looks and smile
Have now become my curse

Track 9: Cut The Curtains

A chunky guitar riff blasts out for the intro of this song and I’m slowly going mad. I was expecting some slow, breather songs so that the listener wouldn’t be bombarded with distorted guitars, crashing cymbals, pumping bass, and ultra-high screaming. I soon skipped this track and nothing grabbed my attention, in fact it’s the least played song from this album on Spotify…still nearly 2 millions plays though, so they’re doing something right.

Stand out lyric:

Ya we’ve got five bucks between you and me
My mental dishes are finally clean

Track 10: Prisoners Of Today

A lightly distorted guitar riffs along with a ride for company, swaying around the airwaves until it’s stamped on by a wall of noise chugging along like a train. At the train came to it’s first stop, the singer boarded for the verse. I skipped it there and then.

Stand out lyric:

My body’s tight my soul’s excited and I wish that I was gifted
My body’s tight my souls excited and I wish I had some spunk

Track 11: Nothing To Lose

As we near the end of an album, the less immediate songs make an appearance, this one is no exception. A nice, clean-ish guitar riff flows through the song in lieu of slabs of distortedness while the vocalist sings us a rather sad tale. I didn’t make it through the whole song, but it was nice to have a less in-your-face track instead of the incessant hollering and thrashing about that came before, even if only be a few percent.

Stand out lyric:

I’d always walk home alone
So I became lifeless
Just like my telephone

Track 12: Voices Of Violence

Finally we come to the end of this loud journey through Billy Talent’s self titled debut album with the stonking track, Voices of Violence. Introducing the end at 100 millions miles per hour, I quickly pulled the ripcord a few seconds into the chorus as it was more of the same, but faster, and more annoying.

Stand out lyric:

The fact is, everyone bleeds when they shave
There’s no use, so don’t deny we’re just the same

Overview

This album was a noisy riot from start to finish with only the silence between songs as a safe space to hide from the shrieking attacks from the members of the band. A highly polished album that lacks any diversity that I’m sure the Billy Talent boys have, which is a shame because Try Honesty is a prized gem within a swamp of distorted guitars, crashing drums, and very paint-by-numbers composition.

Stand out track: Try Honesty

3

This album was a noisy riot from start to finish with only the silence between songs as a safe space to hide from the shrieking attacks from the members of the band

3
Written By
More from Arnie

One Cut Of The Dead (2017)

2017 (Japan) Dir: Shinichiro Ueda Screenplay: Shinichiro Ueda no spoilers I rolled my...
Read More