Billy Talent – Crisis Of Faith

Billy Talent’s sixth album has been something long awaited by fans. Particularly when its first single dropped all the way back in 2019. Over two years later, likely due to various COVID related problems, Crisis Of Faith finally arrives but was it worth the wait?

Immediately it’s nice to be reminded that after 2 years Forgiveness I + II is still one of the most unique and brilliant Billy Talent songs since the golden days of the first two albums. 2016’s Afraid Of Heights saw the band dabble with some prog ideas but this time they lead with it. A sprawling track that clocks in at nearly 7 minutes, it’s unlike anything they’d done before. Yet it still has plenty of recognisable Billy Talent traits. Ben Kowalewicz is still one of the most distinct rock vocalists around and he lends himself brilliantly to this sort of track with his croon on the verse giving way to a huge chorus. The main riff is insanely sticky and the track builds on this as it goes with an explosive solo. This is all in the first three minutes before we hit part two and things get weird. A dreamy instrumental with saxophone is something Billy Talent hadn’t even come close to attempting but they nail it. It was such a wild choice for a single in 2019 and it remains as mind boggling as the albums opener.

This doesn’t mean the rest of the album follows this. As Reckless Paradise roars into life with a killer riff and we get the classic Billy Talent. Think of it as this album’s Devil In A Midnight Mass. It’s brilliant with its massive shout-along chorus and lyrical content that rings true to their punk roots. Rounding out this opening run is I Beg To Differ (This Will Get Better) which slows things down for a big old sweeping ballad. It’s closer to something you’d find on Billy Talent III (2009) but the way its chorus soars shows how good they still are at this sort of thing. It’s hard to argue against this opening run being the best thing Billy Talent have done across their last few records.

It’s a shame the rest of the album doesn’t quite stack up. Not to say it’s bad by any means. Tracks like The Wolf and Reactor are decent enough rock songs but would be forgettable if it wasn’t for the strong personality Billy Talent bring to them. The album never feels derivative or repetitive. They constantly try fit in a few different ideas across the record, like adding in a string section on The Wolf. Or when Judged lets up with a sub two minute blast of Dead Kennedys style hardcore punk. It’s the shot in the arm the record needs after the two previous tracks.

The late highlight comes in the Rivers Cuomo featuring End Of Me which has Billy Talent just doing their take on the Blue Album right down to the solo. It’s a great song and having the Rivers guest spot feels like a nice moment for them, working with someone who is a huge influence. Even when every song on the album can’t quite hit the level of brilliance this or Reckless Paradise achieve, nothing here is bad. It’s in and out in 36 minutes too so it never drags on.

Billy Talent will likely never reach the insane heights of the first two albums again. But they may as well be untouchable classics from their era. Yet Billy Talent still remain a reliable band who deliver a handful of bangers on every album. They might not be as livewire as they once were, but there is still something about Billy Talent which makes them worth paying attention to every time an album comes round.

Crisis Of Faith is available now via Spinefarm Records

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