While the first full-length album by Canadians Billy Talent is as strong as one could wish a debut to be, it is not the genre-busting album that some reviewers have made it out to be. Amazon reviewers have an annoying tendency to review only the albums they love or hate, giving an inaccurate reflection of an album's virtue - it generally receives five stars, or just one.
From start to finish, it is difficult to pick holes in this record, once you get accustomed to the nasal and brattish vocals of Benjamin Kowalewicz. The riffs are varied and inventive - see the middle eight of 'Try Honesty' - with plenty of catchy hooks to keep even the most sceptical listener interested. Billy Talent are a fusion of punk, prog rock and emo hardcore, and sound like a hybrid of The Offspring and At The Drive-In. 'Line and Sinker' in particular tips its' hat to the latter; it is a dead ringer for ATD-I's 'Pattern Against User'.
The band have used clever time signature changes and dynamics to put across their aggression and energy; album-closer 'Voices of Violence' is a full-on aural assualt, and 'River Below' is a stomping tune with a simple, killer riff. 'Lies' has a pleasant feelgood factor with a serious undertone, while the obligatory 'We rock but we're kinda sensitive too' track ('Nothing To Lose') is a suprisingly good emo song. The album as a whole is characterised by clever vocal interchanges as well, adding a welcome extra layer to the band's sound, just about preventing it from becoming too one-dimensional.
'Billy Talent' doesn't get five stars here because the intial intrigue begins to wane towards the album's end - not a good sign of a 40-minute record. However, each song taken on its' own can easily stand up against anything the band's contemporaries (Thrice, Thursday et al) are producing. The potential is there, and Billy Talent have impressive songs (I imagine their live shows to be riotous) but it remains to be seen how much longevity all this angst can have...