hey folks! we’re back with another review From the Vault, this time looking at the work of Billy Talent! this series of reviews covers the band’s whole discography, from 2003’s Billy Talent to what was the most recent record at the time, Afraid of Heights in 2016! this review was originally written in October 2021.

this week we’re taking a look at the follow up to Billy Talent’s debut record, Billy Talent II, released in 2006!

alright yeah Devil In a Midnight Mass is still a fucking banging way to kick off the album. love that little guitar riff at the beginning, and the chorus is catchy as hell. great start. Red Flag is my fave track of the album. love the stripped back-guitar and drum combo on the verses, combined with the vocal delivery they normally save for slower songs, which then ramps the fuck up into the chorus, its great. plus the chorus just makes you wanna shout along. i think lyrically This Suffering is still a little too emo for my taste but its hard to deny that catchy ass chorus, and i really dig the bridge too. i dunno what i didn’t like about Worker Bees’ intro on my last listen, but yeah i dig this track. unsurprising to me that a punk band in the early aughts wrote multiple anti-Bush tracks but if i have a few more bands in this era i could probs just make a playlist of those track, given what the Decemberists had, haha. Pins & Needles has a really interesting push and pull right up to the bridge with the really satisfying bit where they drop the name, its nice. Fallen Leaves is a solid one for sure – the lyrics here are understandably a bummer but the guitar on this track is great. i’m alright on Where Is the Line? im sure an anti-hipster anthem was a much bigger deal in 2006 than today, and while im not against the sentiment today it feels a little silly to call them “urban gangsters”, lol. Covered In Cowardice is evergreen tho. i’ll echo my old opinion that i feel the vocal delivery on the chorus feels a bit at odds with their instrumental decisions, which is a shame because otherwise i’d have a much better opinion of the track. def dont dislike it as much as i did last time tho, haha. Surrender is a nice, more personal track amidst a lot of the rest of this album, which either feels more political/social or … i dunno generic? This Suffering feels less personal than this track. i would agree with past me that the bridge on Surrender is a neat feature of the song but kinda runs counter to the vibes of the rest of the track. well, i was really high on ska-punk in 2017 so i blame that. man i joked about comparisons between these guys and the Decemberists but The Navy Song reminded me of A Legionnaire’s Lament, in general tone. god i got brainworms. anyway, i think its a very nice song! love the little looping swirly feeling guitar in the verses, and how the mood of the track ebbs and flows between the rage and injustice of the chorus and the quiet sorrow of the verses. neat track. Perfect World has song interesting instrumental decisions. the bridge doesnt bother me nearly as much as it did way back when. Sympathy’s another track that feels really grounded lyrically, and i dig it. love the guitarwork on this one. okay Burn the Evidence is a nice response to a very prevalent occurrence where white dudes feel like society has promised them things it wont deliver and they get hyper right wing to make those promises come true for them. BtE is like… why not do the opposite of that, which is a message im on board for.

faves – Devil In a Midnight Mass, Red Flag, Worker Bees, Pins & Needles, Fallen Leaves, The Navy Song, Sympathy
dislikes –

okay i know i focused a lot in my last review about the variety and intertwining of vocal delivery in the last album, which i think was really interesting! for the follow up though, they got more deliberate, and i think the overall effect is stronger. they lean a lot heavier on lead singer Ben Kowalewicz’s regular singing voice here than rapidly switching back and forth, and to me anyway, it creates a very consistent that peppering his kinda “screechy” bits and their other singer’s contributions adds a nice amount of spice too.

honestly i feel like this album only has a couple tracks that clearly stand above their last album, but man basically every song has some interesting decision or neat feature, and i think the quality overall is much higher. i also like the deliberate decision to include more lower intensity tracks, or to have a song move more deliberately between moods.

Billy Talent II – 7/10

next week, we’ll be taking a look at Billy Talent III!

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