Billy Talent - Billy Talent II (Cover Artwork)

Billy Talent

Billy Talent II (2006)


Billy Talent. Here's a band that's received comments from both ends of the adjective spectrum, from "amazing" to "horrible," and from "talented" to "hopeless case." But more often than not, they are unappreciated and mostly shunned. Now, I can't fully agree with this for their first release, their self-titled debut. However, Billy Talent II, their second effort (and very originally named) lacks in too many areas. Me, being a pretty big Billy Talent fan, really wanted to like this release. But it just didn't make the grade. In short, if you liked Billy Talent's self-titled, you'll be disappointed with this album. If you didn't like Billy Talent anyway, then this release will not change your mind in the slightest.

First flaw, the CD lacks any strong, fast-paced songs, much unlike Billy Talent [I], which thrived on them. The album opener, "Devil in a Midnight Mass" is probably the fastest song on the CD, but that's not saying much considering it's not entirely quick.

Next, the CD lacks variety. Most of the songs sound too alike; the drum beat barely changes in the transition between any of the songs, apart from the slow ballad-like "Pins and Needles," "Surrender," and the guitar-driven "Covered in Cowardice." The guitar covers the bass in most cases, only showcasing the bass player's talent in a few, minor moments.

And last, but not least, lyric-wise -- the CD droops severely. Maybe it has to do with the fact that II is less angst-filled than its predecessor, yet they're flat out mediocre at some points and occasionally simultaneously cheesy. Benjamin's vocals are not what they were on their self-titled; you hardly hear his anger-filled shouts on II. And for the most part, his voice gets too high for most of the CD, making it somewhat annoying throughout the duration of the release.

I understand Billy Talent was trying a new approach at things, which is very respectable. But they just didn't quite cut it. Some songs do prove to have a light of hope, however. "The Navy Song" has a well-laid out guitar throughout the song, and the way the instruments convey the song fit the lyrics rather nicely. The bouncy "Where Is the Line?" could have fitted almost perfectly into their self-titled release. And the album closer, "Burn the Evidence" is one of the strongest tracks on the CD, managing to close the album extremely well and making it probably the biggest highlight on II.

In all, this just wasn't it. It was a failed attempt at trying something new. But the talent to make something that can make the grade is definitely there. Maybe in a few years time we'll see some improvement from the Canadian quartet.