Billy Talent have been a band for a little over 20 years now, however, the first 10 years were under a different name. Pezz, as they were originally known, were a punk outfit playing small shows around Toronto and Mississauga, Canada. After legal issues in 1999, they changed their name to Billy Talent, and well, the rest is history. In November 2014, the band released the now all-too-common greatest hits album, chronicling the past 10 years and four albums of their life.
Hits, as it’s called, goes through Billy Talent’s singles chronologically, from I to Dead Silence, starting with their first major single, “Try Honesty.” This song mixes D’sa, Gallant, and vocalist Kowalewicz’s three-part harmonies with a punk/classic rock instrumentation that sounds more akin to Foo Fighters. The picks from I continue this musical theme of a lighter, more melody-driven punk, which is a stark contrast to the songs chosen to represent II. From metal-influenced “Devil In A Midnight Mass” to punk anthem “Red Flag” to alternative “Fallen Leaves,” this batch of songs gets hearts racing and feet tapping to the constant pounding of the kick and steady rhythms of the bass.
The singles chosen from III and Dead Silence have the most consistent sounds, as they truly showcase Billy Talent’s signature styles. Unlike most anthology albums, though, Hits doesn’t end with the feel-good finale song “Stand Up And Run.” Instead, the band debuts two new songs, “Kingdom Of Zod” and “Chasing The Sun,” the first of which is an attack on politicians, such as Rob Ford. “Chasing The Sun” is a mostly acoustic song, telling listeners to make the most of their lives.
Billy Talent is one of those bands that can bring you back to your teenage years, but also give you glimpses of your future. It’s only fitting that Hits starts with their first single, and ends with a brand new song about cherishing life.