Billy Talent I was a debut album that rocked in parts, and showed promise.
Billy Talent II was an amazing album that rocked throughout, and showed passion.
Billy Talent III can be summarized in one word: meh.
Basically, it's not bad; it's just boring. By the time you reach the first chorus of the first song, "Devil on my Shoulder", the listener has already endured a plodding opening riff and verse. And that is the prevalent attribute of this album really-it knows how to plod. The aforementioned "Devil on my Shoulder" and the subsequent track, "Rusted from the Rain", suffer from repetitive, un-catchy choruses. "Rusted from the Rain" is the lead single from the album, and is everything a lead single generally isn't: It's slow and unimaginative throughout. Admittedly, the closing chorus does pack a punch, somewhat, but most people won't hear it. Because they will be asleep.
A far more appropriate single would have been the strongest track, "Turn Your Back". Lyrically, the band reach their high point with their scathing political and social commentary, and the driving guitars and drums support a memorable chorus. The lyrical low point is "Pocketful of Dreams": "Reach into a pocketful of dreams / Now, before they fall out of the seams / Take a chance, don't matter if you fail / You're too scared to try 'cause you might break a nail." Well, it rhymes. I'll give them credit for that.
"Tears Into Wine" has some high points, and the vocals reaching their pinnacle. "White Sparrows" occasionally stumbles across something exciting, but that's the major quibble-the songs don't do enough to maintain a high level of interest. Oh, and "Sudden Movements" is pure unadulterated tedium in song form.
Anywho, musicianship-wise, Billy Talent are accomplished. Ian D'Sa certainly knows how to use his guitar, and his vocal harmonies are always well-executed. Jon Gallant is a creative bassist, and Aaron Solowoniuk keeps the drumming solid with some nice flourishes, thank you very much. Ben Kowalewicz has a whiny voice, but endearingly so; at least, when he's not using it to strain to some cringe-worthy screaming (see "Saint Veronika". Just as the song was beginning to go somewhere, out come the screams and the song goes somewhere completely different and much worse.). But come on guys! Use your talents for a greater good!
Just to reiterate, this stuff is not bad. You could take one of these songs and shove it in the middle of Billy Talent II, and it would be a weaker song but ultimately tolerable. A whole album pretty much full of songs of that calibre though? It's the musical equivalent of a cold, wet sponge to the face.
So if you like cold, wet sponges to the face, this is highly recommended.