BILLY TALENT II

-- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET


Billy Talent
Billy Talent II
(Atlantic/Warner)

Typically, two kinds of bands number their albums: Vain ones (Led Zeppelin III) and lazy ones (Chicago XXVI). Now, we don't know if screamo kings Billy Talent are being egotistical or lackadaisical by enumerating their sophomore album. But we do know this: They're being accurate.

Call it a sequel, an extension, a followup, whatever -- Billy Talent II takes up where its 2003 predecessor left off. And it sticks to the tried-and-true ratio of sophomore discs: It's 90% repetition and 10% new.

In the familiar column: The elastic guitar arpeggios. The choppy clang-a-lang chords. The frantic dynamic shifts. The lurching tempo changes. The strikingly poppy melodies. The metallic overtones. The soaring, sneering punk yelping and yowling. The screamo outbursts.

In the new and improved column: The way they fuse those elements. In keeping with the 10% rule, Billy Talent take everything up a notch on these 13 songs.

Sure, the last album had Try Honesty. But it also had too many sluggish, midtempo tunes that sounded the same. Not this time.

Here, the beats are a little more urgent. The guitars have a bit more heft. The hooks and lyrics are sharper. The songs are leaner. And everything is delivered with more expertise and confidence.

They come out swinging with the combination punch of Devil in a Midnight Mass (kickstarted by a riff that could have come from an old Iron Maiden disc), Red Flag (a mosh-pit anthem) and The Suffering (which surges ahead and pulls back in a balance of tension and release).

And while the disc does settle into a slightly mellower, samey zone around the middle, the intensity level remains higher than in the past. Even better, the boys get their second wind with late-album rockers like Perfect World and Burn the Evidence.

We still don't know if that makes them vain or lazy. We just know we'll be back for Billy Talent III.

Track Listing:

1. Devil In A Midnight Mass
2. Red Flag
3. This Suffering
4. Worker Bees
5. Pins And Needles
6. Fallen Leaves
7. Where Is The Line
8. Covered In Cowardice
9. Surrender
10. The Navy Song
11. Prefect World
12. Sympathy
13. Burn The Evidence


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