Ontario based quartet Billy Talent have been in the game for more than a decade but after 2014’s retrospective ‘Hits’ album a lot of fans thought that the band were drawing a line under a phase of their careers to move on and progress. ‘Afraid of Heights’ might be progression but it’s still everything we know and love about the Canadian bunch.
On the surface the band might be seen as just another addition to the anthemic rock world but one of the things which makes the band so unique are the vocals of Benjamin Kowalewicz which still stand strong, sharp and high pitched where needed. This alongside killer riffs and some of the catchiest lyrics help them stand out in the punk rock cattle market.
‘Afraid of Heights’ is a mixture of previous albums with the slowed down sounds we heard of 2012’s ‘Dead Silence’ showing punks can still pack a punch with a lower tone, yet the anthemic catchy rock of ‘Billy Talent II’ which came out in the mid 00’s. From the moment ‘Big Red Gun’ kicks in with it’s melodic notes and lyrics of how problematic guns can be (very apt in today’s world), we can tell the band are musically aiming for something that little bit higher.
‘Louder Than The DJ’ has spiky riffs and heavier vocal changes while ‘This Is Our War’ is the closest Billy Talent come to a political number building melodies and crashing them back down. None of the songs have been written to prove something, they’ve been written simply because the band love what they do. The bands ability to create a song which will get your foot tapping before you’ve even realised it has been long since admired.
‘The Crutch’, ‘February Winds’ and ‘Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats’ scream old school BT with big riffs and huge chorus’. The signature guitar tone is present and everything feels completely organic, there’s no electronic sounds clouding our ears or sound of over production, this is just a band in a studio recording what they love.
‘Afraid of Heights’ has it all, there are age old punk rock bangers, powerful guitar driven ballads and some party anthems to get you dancing but everything here sculpts a new identity to show that Billy Talent have so much more to give.
Billy Talent have never needed to reinvest themselves during their existence but evolution has tightened their performance. They’re still brash and ballsy but they’ve softened slightly over time bringing a perfectly rounded album with ‘Afraid of Heights’. Billy Talent are a band others aspire to be but few will be loved as much as them.