Album Review: Billy Talent – Afraid of Heights

Billy Talent is a punk rock band from Toronto, Canada consisting of members Benjamin Kowalewicz (vocals), Ian D’Sa (guitar), Jon Gallant (bass) and Aaron Solowoniuk (drums). After several years of success since their superb debut under the name Billy Talent (formally Pezz), they now release their long-awaited fifth studio album Afraid of Heights.  This is the first album that the band have recorded without Aaron Solowoniuk who is, unfortunately, suffering from multiple sclerosis. Instead, Afraid of Heights features Jordan Hastings of Alexisonfire on drums and will also be standing in on tour for the foreseeable future. 

Afraid of Heights features some classic Billy Talent style songs, such as the title track “Afraid of Heights”, “Big Red Gun”, “The Crutch”, “Time Bomb Ticking Away”, “Horses & Chariots” and “Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats” currently being some of my favourites. I’d like to hear the band experiment more with synths as featured in “Horses & Chariots” on future releases as it blends in nicely with their sound, providing it’s subtle and not too overwhelming, that is. “Louder Than the DJ” is the only track that I really can’t get into, it kind of feels like it was just thrown in there to make some kind of statement against the current decline in more traditional guitar-based music. I just feel that bands should embrace innovation, not fight against it. 

With the band taking a deeper and politically driven approach to their songwriting, their sound remains as instantly recognisable and anthemic as it has ever been. Billy Talent already boasts a solid back catalogue and whilst their first two albums (Billy Talent and Billy Talent II) will probably always be the most loved, I’m sure Afraid of Heights will be just as well received by their fans and critics alike!

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Richard Neil

I'm a freelance journalist who has interests in music, film, travel and politics. ▲

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