One of the most loved modern punk bands in the world, Canadian multi-platinum rockers Billy Talent delve out of the trilogy that formed their last three albums for the first time to release Dead Silence. If you think that they have changed their sound in any way, you’re wrong. Dead Silence continues on the same type of formula that has made Billy Talent so great by combining alternative elements with high-energy punk music. Depending on how much of a fan you are of the band, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing.
There are key differences that separate Dead Silence from its predecessor III. First off is that roughly half of the songs on the album are strictly alternative. Even if you were to cut out Benjamin Kowalewicz’s clear and standout vocals, you can still sense the music of Billy Talent underneath. The band’s instrumentation is largely the same, with concise guitar tones and familiar drumming, but there are zero punk sections within these songs. This is where anyone could see why this was not called IV. Love it or hate it, it’s not like they’ve never wrote songs that don’t have any of their punk sound.
Often, these kinds of songs are buried within their albums. Tracks like “Cure For the Enemy” and the title track have the marketability to become instant hits on the radio and provide a seldom seen side of the band that’s known for intense tracks like “Red Flag” and “Devil in a Midnight Mass.” I think that these should have been moved up into the beginning half of the album to show their fans how far they’ve really come.
Another excellent standout song is the bass-driven “Love Was Still Around.” Depending on how you feel about the track, this can musically be seen as “Red Flag Pt. II” as the overall pitches are strikingly familiar to each other. But I am a huge fan of “Red Flag,” so this track stands as my favorite on Dead Silence. If you didn’t like Billy Talent before, it’s likely that the alternative songs previously mentioned could change your mind. In the end, it’s still the same great band.
In a way, Dead Silence is like two different EPs that show the band in two different musical directions that have been welded into one entity. “Runnin’ Across the Tracks” is back to the II days of the band and exhibits the same familiar one-two-one punch of any of their hits. This band strives on the continuing support of their longtime fans without bending towards reaching out to new fans, yet there’s no doubt new fans will be turned into liking them. If you’re a Billy Talent virgin, this is the perfect album to break that cherry.