Review: Billy Talent, Rock City, by Tom Pegg
THERE can be few bands operating today with as distinctive a sound as Canadian punk rock four-piece Billy Talent.
Ever since their eponymous 2003 breakthrough album, the combination of Ben Kowalewicz's high, vitriolic goblin voice and Ian D'Sa's super-tight, clanking guitar lines has remained instantly recognisable, if not necessarily to everybody's taste.
But the band's real strength is in songwriting – this has always been a stadium punk rock band masquerading as a post-hardcore outfit, with a special line in huge angry anthems for choruses.
Five albums into their career (if you count their original late '90s incarnation as Pezz), the band is as tight and focused as it has ever been, and Kowalewicz is every bit the rock and roll showman these days.
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A comfortably-packed mid-week Rock City crowd laps up classics such as Fallen Leaves, Try Honesty and Line & Sinker, and responds equally well to the liberal dashings of material from polished new album Dead Silence.
And fortunately the failings of that slightly underwhelming record don't trouble the live setting – with Cure For The Enemy, Surprise Surprise and Love Was Still Around all sounding agreeably huge.
They may no longer be as raw, but Billy Talent remain a fine band with a great knack for writing a punchy rock song.