The new Billy Talent album starts out much differently then I thought it would. Normally, Billy Talent come out of the gate kicking. A lot of things on this album are a little different but somewhat familiar. The band has stopped naming each album in numerical succession. Otherwise this album would have been titled IV instead of Dead Silence. With the change in the way the album is titled comes a different philosophy in relation to other elements of the album as well, like the opening track. Normally their albums start off with a raucous, energetic tune. This time they switch things up with slow acoustic based tune, “Lonely Road of Absolution”. It is catchy but a definite departure. It serves the purpose of setting the theme of the album: that we are living in a new world and we need to find out how to deal with it, “Evil has been blessed with praise, heroes end up in their graves. So who will be your savior now?”
Next up is the first single they released entitled “Viking Death March”. This song kicks in with a brand new riff that gave the track its name. A guitar tech heard them practicing the song and said that the unfinished tune sounded like a viking death march and the name just stuck. This is the Billy Talent we are expecting to hear, an upbeat, rocking tune. Lyrically, it continues the album’s theme of how much our world has changed and just how scary of a place it now is. On this track they explore who might be to blame for that; the church, “You preach about love, teach about faith. But all your beliefs are still rooted in hate!” and financial institutions that have allowed everyday people to see their lives left in ruin, “Rats, fighting for scraps. Siphoned the gas from your tank. Left your pockets empty, as they laugh to the bank”. They are definitely not pulling any punches with these culprits.
“Surprise Surprise” sounds like the long overdue anthem for the Occupy movement. In actuality it is a tongue in cheek poke at life and the world that we are faced with today. “Runnin’ Across the Tracks” is such a catchy tune. The chorus is huge but familiar and it features all of the members and has a fun sing along moment to it. This song has such a driving rhythm and it makes sense that it is about throwing caution to the wind and creating the life you want for yourself. The band strongly urges you into action with the call, “Don’t let your fear control your fate”.
“When Love Was Still Around” is energetic but not a standout track. It fits in with the rest of the album but doesn’t make much of an impression. “Stand Up and Run” is a refreshing change of pace as an acoustic track. The melodies that this band can create amaze me. Some of their tracks are so frantic and in your face it takes tracks like this one to remind you how melodic they can be. The song is also beautiful lyrically as well. It is a tune about a guy who doesn’t pursue a girl until it is too late, “If I’d only known how you’d make me feel
I would kiss the ground that touches your heel” and he hopes she will one day come back, “And though time has passed, we’ll still make it last. And I hope this leads you right back into my arms”. Classic tale that so many of us can relate to.
Crooked Minds has a really gritty sounding guitar riff that turns into a clean riff. I also really like how he holds the words “Sky and Die ” in the choruses. It’s another one of those moments that make me want to sing along. They have a real knack for making songs that have really catchy choruses. This song is about how busy and miserable people’s lives have become, “Can’t you see the clocks are ticking away, they try to fit more hours into the day…They swallow up the green and build up the grey and let tomorrow’s kids dispose of today”. “Man Alive” is fast and really upbeat. This is an example of the energy that was missing from III. “Hanging by a Thread” sounds like a blast from the past. It sounds like a tune that could have been on I or II. I love this tune. As much as it sounds like an older song it fits in here and sounds new.
Like I said before Billy Talent write some catchy tunes especially the choruses, it is especially true for the two following songs. Try to not at least hum along to these songs. “Cure For The Enemy” has such a huge chrous. “Don’t Count on the Wicked” is just as catchy. This song is a response to the haters and negative nellies of the world, “We face this world alone. When all they want is to break you, turn anger into hope.”
“Show Me The Way”is much like “When Love Was Still Around” it is a good song but it isn’t particularly strong to me. The band really brings it on the next tune though. It is the slow piano-driven “Swallowed Up By the Ocean”. It is a slow, plodding, but beautiful song that sounds as large scaled as the title of the song would suggest. It is an emotionally heavy song and it projects that, both musically and lyrically.It is a heart-breaking song about the dissolution of a relationship and not in a good, amicable way, “I tried so hard to love you, but then you turned your back on me. Your good intentions turned to greed and now it’s good to know that you have been…Swallowed Up By The Ocean.” These sound like words I might utter about an ex girlfriend.
The album comes to a close with the title track which is kind of a shame, it is a great tune but it just suffers from following “Swallowed Up By the Ocean”. It is a good closer and does what it is supposed to do and does it well. They leave us on an uplifting note, “And the world will survive, if we stand side by side. One day hope will arrive, but now I must say goodbye.”
This album is both a fresh change and everything you come to expect from Billy Talent. As one of the few people that really liked their last album, III, I am impressed with how much they have improved. They have redefined themselves with Dead Silence but also made an album that their old fans can enjoy.