Review Summary: If you can get past the ugly cliches about My Chemical Romance, you'll find a maginificent concept album that is musically strong, original and brooding that will be a landmark release for years to come.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m surrounded by a high school crowd, or the fact that My Chemical Romance are emerging as the spokesmen of my generation makes me attracted to their music. I’m not much of a fan of the bands whose lead singers wear eyeliner, nor am I a fan of the bands that write about vampires and subjects such as that. But something inside of me urged myself to go pick up My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade
. I’m more of a metal fan myself, but all the surprising critical acclaim the album received allured me; as well as the lead single Welcome to the Black Parade
. So, I gained much courage, and walked into my nearby CD Warehouse and in my Meshuggah T-Shirt I walked up and bought The Black Parade. The owner knows me well, and we eventually started talking about the exact reason I was buying The Black Parade before I said it seems like a good listen, and honestly, this seems like that perfected concept album that speaks for a generation; much like Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
did for the 90s, and much like Pink Floyd’s The Wall
did for the 70s. In my opinion, the lead single Welcome to the Black Parade seemed so epic and grandiose that I couldn’t help but give in. And, so I did. Then, as I began my drive home, I began listening to The Black Parade.
Before hearing it, I had heard all the negative connotations about Welcome to the Black Parade being a Queen rip-off; but I’ve never found any of those relations, perhaps other than the slowly-building atmosphere of the track. The song doesn’t go into random lyrics of “Galileo! Galileo!”, nor does it really have any vocal layering, blistering guitar solos, and the song build-up isn’t anywhere close to Bohemian Rhapsody’s. So, all the naysayers were already discounted many points in my book. The opening track The End.
opens up with a heart monitor before Gerard Way starts wavering his voice opening up The Black Parade using a piano and unorthodox guitar sounds. “Maybe this won’t be so bad, after all.” I begin to think. This is how most grand albums start, with an opening track setting the stage for the rest of the album. Dead!
now playing on my car stereo, backed up by the jamming drumline as well as the fast guitar riffs and licks, before exploding into the extremely catchy rhythm of the chorus. It quickly explodes into a well-executed, crunchy solo before it quickly spirals into the end, as This is How I Disappear
clicks onto my CD player. After jamming out to Dead!, the song presents a more brooding, melodic tone with a dark underbelly. The guitars are bullet-fast and extremely technical in this song, and in a matter of no time I’m jamming out to it in my car, on my way home. “This is pretty good.” I begin to think. The Sharpest Lives
is a more dynamic track, as Way distorts his vocals in the verse before the chorus, before it presents itself in an extremely melodic and rhythmic style and screams itself as a very good Deep Cut.
But suddenly, I’ve arrived at my house. I grab the groceries out of the back of my truck, grab The Black Parade, drop the groceries on the table, and go upstairs; to finish listening to My Chemical Romance. After I see a tear drop to the floor for taking Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero
out of the changer for a MCR album, I quietly click to Track 5, the apex of the album Welcome to the Black Parade. It begins quietly with single piano notes as Way sings by himself over my speakers before it speeds up into a louder verse, before slowing down again, before exploding again. It does this for most of the song; but really strikes me as amazing here is the song’s fantastic guitar work. It’s really fast, aggressive, and unique. The plethora of sound effects the song utilizes to capture the essence of a parade is impeccable, as well as the fantastic breakdown at the end; and you’ve looked back on five fantastic minutes of your life, gone. Then, I hear the Power Ballad of the album in I Don’t Love You
infiltrate your speakers, and I realize that this band still has it’s roots in the mainstream emo style that’s on the radio. But, it’s still a tolerable track that is worth listening. Then, House of Wolves
becomes the most frantic track you’ve heard this far; presenting extreme speeds, fast drumming, and almost rapping vocal performances. At this point, I’m kind of jamming out to the track before realizing what I’m doing; and promptly ending the ‘jamming’. Then the mood is substantially darkened with a disheartening track titled Cancer
which presents the theme of death and loss in full-force with it’s dark lyrics and the disturbing piano notes. Orchestral symphonies are often used in the song to further convey the mood, before Way revels on about “the hardest part of this is leaving you…”. It may seem cliché, but this isn’t a man wailing about losing his love, it’s about a man potentially losing his life.
After having the dreary tone of the album blown upon us with Cancer, Mama
is next; and is perhaps the most cheesy and strange song on the album. It begins with almost a circus tone while Way rambles about writing a letter to his mom about death before it goes back into a standard chorus style. The song goes back and forth from the circus-style to the chorus style again, before it explores an awkward breakdown and seems a bit overwhelming. So, after scratching my head a bit with Mama, Sleep
is the next on the album, and seems to be a single at heart. Very melodic, but catchy, and a bit solemn, it seems a multiple-personality track that has all the feelings of a very epic, overbearing track. After the melodic style of Sleep, it’s the big single Teenagers
, which is sort of a ‘shout-out’ to all the kids in High School that don’t fit in with it’s poppy style, ‘easy to relate’ lyrics, and the relative accessibility to the song (it could easily be played at a High School dance) makes it seem a bit too desperate, but a worthwhile listen easily. Disenchanted
shows the dark side of the album rearing it’s ugly head with great force and setting up an ugly, dark atmosphere for the grand finale of Famous Last Words
. At first glance, Famous Last Words may not be a very epic grand finale, but it does the job well by closing the story of The Black Parade successfully with it’s brooding, introspective lyrics and variety of personalities. It’s quite slow-building, and is also catchy. It explodes in the end and ends in a ‘Blaze of Glory’. The instruments slowly fade out as Way continues wailing the chorus. Then, it ends, and I restart the album over again, eager to re-live it's grandness.
After realizing how far My Chemical Romance has come from the days of I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love
and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
, it’s quite apparent they’ve become a legitimate band that will be remembered for years. This is an epic, grandiose Alternative Rock album tinged with a bit of Punk, packaged in a disturbing search for the answers surrounding death. Then, I decide it was worth buying the album and this is one of the best albums of the decade, and may very well be the album that speaks for the decade. If you can put aside the fact that it seems cool to hate My Chemical Romance because they’re popular, The Black Parade is guaranteed to provide you with a half-hour of pure enjoyment in their fun, spastic alternative rock style. Potentially, I forsee The Black Parade being a landmark release in the future, and will be the album that My Chemical Romance tries to topple for years to come.