• 8/10
    BILLY TALENT - 666 - 8/10


Release date: November 23, 2007

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Once in a while a hard band can score great success. Unfortunately, that is rather seldom the case with straight Heavy Metal, but as long as a band shows promise as much as Canadian hopefuls Billy Talent do, one is happy about anything with a good guitar that can break through the phalanx of exchangeable Pop and Hip Hop releases that clog the charts. In this case, the style is a mixture of Emo, Pop, and Punk with a strong emphasis on melody, and Billy Talent absolutely deserve the hype that surrounds them.

Although the band has existed for almost one and a half decades, the two regular releases date back to the time after the change of names from Pezz to Billy Talent only a few years ago (2003 and 2006), and while the first attempt made the music scene look up, the second got the world jumping: chart positions included #46 in the UK, #4 in Austria and #1 in Canada and Germany, remaining in the top 100 for over a year in the latter. After a smash hit album like that, it is no surprise that the record company demands another release, and the obvious choice is usually a live album. Now, with a total of 25 songs released on the two albums, and 17 songs on the live CD (divided into 9 from Billy Talent II and 8 from Billy Talent), one may rightfully state the question if it is not a bit too early for this release. But, one has to give it to the record company that they want to milk the cow while they can, and in this any musical style follows the same commercial pattern, especially around Christmas time. So, not to dwell too much on that fact, especially not since each of the 17 songs played does rightfully deserve to be in Billy Talent’s live set. Each and every one of them is a hit in its own right, rich with melody and drive, making the crowd sweat regardless if the topic of the mostly serious lyrics is politics (“Worker Bees”), or love (“The Ex”), drug addiction (“Fallen Leaves”), or child abuse (“Devil In A Midnight Mass”). A strange contrast to the fun appeal of their sound.

The album was recorded during their mostly sold out world tour in Düsseldorf, Germany, the country where the band -– apart from their home country -– celebrated their biggest success to date. The sound of the recording is good and catches the intensity of the gig well. A document of pure fun and musical enthusiasm that make the listener smile regardless if he likes Billy Talent’s style or not. Rarely has a live recording been released lately that captures the atmosphere and punch of a gig so nicely… one has to take a look around from time to time to make sure the four guys are not rocking directly behind one’s back. Occasional mistakes have not been erased and heighten the live experience, and singer Ben Kowalewicz does not seem to care that on stage he misses a note or two regularly, which makes the Punk Rock roots shimmer through.

So, even though there are no surprises on the album, no cover versions, old Pezz songs, medleys or variations, it is still a good CD to purchase as it also serves as a more intense Best Of … album. Billy Talent lovers will not be disappointed, and for everybody else it may be the right way to enjoy a band that, in spite of their mainstream success, is worth discovering.

But, the CD is only half of the fun, as the set also contains a live DVD. The material was filmed on three locations, the said gig at Düsseldorf, the Rock Am Ring Festival in Germany, and Brixton Academy, London, England, and each location is introduced with a few minutes of band interviews and statements. The visual support from the stage scenes even increases the pleasure of the music, the power and intensity is supported by sweaty stage acting and shots of the enthusiastic crowd. The pictures of hard working Kowalewicz with his little flaws in his performance make the DVD a document of a tour you’ll wish you had bought a ticket to, although, naturally, there is no room for fine musicianship and colorful soloing. If a Dream Theater gig is a six course French cuisine dinner, this is the musical equivalent of a burger lunch. Well, most certainly have the second more often than the first, and do you mind? Since the quality of pictures and sound leaves nothing to be desired, this is not going to be a DVD that will gather dust.

Two points of criticism though: the songs are not always in the order the band played them, but have been picked and rearranged for the compilation DVD, and one song, “Red Flag,” is even on there twice. It is a good song, but still leaves the impression again that it is a bit early for such an elaborate live document.

There also is a limited edition featuring two DVDs containing the complete gigs in Düsseldorf and London. The setlist is identical with the exception of the song “Surrender,” which was not played in London. This review focuses on the single DVD set, but it is surely a good guess that a complete set without the two cuts from one location to another may even increase the enjoyment, so it may be worth buying the 2 DVD set, which costs only marginally more.

Billy Talent will have a hard time composing a successor to II, but in the meantime fans all can leave the DVD in the player, and the CD in the car stereo, and wait for what this very talented band will have in store n the years to come.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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