It’s been a few years since Canadian natives Billy Talent put together a new studio album: the last we heard from Kowalewicz and co was back in 2014 when they released their Greatest Hits album. Aside from a few shows in between these guys have been pretty much off the radar for a while now. Despite the band’s drummer Aaron Solowinuik having to sit this album out due to a Multiple Sclerosis relapse, it’s amazing to see that the band have still kept him very much within their circles and a part of the release, featuring him in the album promo images alongside backup drummer Jordan Hastings of Say Yes and Alexisonfire. ,
Big Red Gun is the first track to kick off Afraid of Heights. A massive energy-punching anthem, it features a huge chant-along chorus that anyone can get behind. As always it features Benjamin Kowalewicz’s signature gravelly vocals, complimented by the energetic backing vocals of guitarist Ian D’sa. The track puts across Billy Talent‘s ongoing musical theme, which is style continuity. There is no other band out there that sounds like Billy Talent and there probably never will be, their success has to be credited to their absolute individuality in the genre.
The second track on the album is title track Afraid of Heights, it has a catchiness that is reminiscent of why so many people fell in love with Billy Talent’s self-titled debut back in 2003. The track has something special, it has an atmospheric quality that feels relevant as most of us could relate to the lyrical content. The most noticeable progression in this album is the introduction of a political theme throughout: reflective of today’s society, many tracks convey a message depicting global issues such as civil unrest and day-to-day strife and fear. A track that depicts this theme perfectly is This is our War which looks at the idea of hate, fear and equality. The chorus hits home with the lyrics “Once there was a nation here, now there is no more,” depicting the band’s disdain for current world events.
Other standout tracks include the energy packed February Winds and Horses & Chariots, which is a more intricate piece than many other notable Billy Talent tracks. It has a very commercial element about it, aside from having the potential to be a huge festival and arena track, boasting a fantastic guitar solo toward the latter half along with some really emotive vocals.
In a nutshell Afraid of Heights is undeniably the best Billy Talent album since Billy Talent II (2006): it’s raw, passionate and gritty. It has this jump start that previous outings have been distinctly lacking over recent years. The album is to the point, it’s in your face, and it’s Billy Talent back on top.
Standout Track: This is Our War
For Fans Of: Anti Flag, Cancer Bats
Written by: Pat Gleeson