Review Summary: Frank Iero finally grows some cojones. Too bad they're kinda puny.
After the somewhat (insert own adjective here) Black Parade, there were many critics who wondered where My Chemical Romance would go next. The answer was...nowhere. The Way brothers started having children and writing comics and getting married, while the guy with the 'fro and the drummer did...well, nothing. But wait, there is one more member who I forgot to mention. The rhythm guitarist, Frank Iero had something up his sleeve; something to blow the images of tight leather marching band uniforms and crowds of teenage girls fawning over him out of everybody's mind. He came up with this: Leathermouth, a hardcore punk band with attitude and something to say, something that will prove to everyone that he has balls.
Too bad it's not that great.
I mean, it's not bad or anything, in fact it can be quite enjoyable, but it just seems like a Converge/Gallows/Refused B-sides compilation. All the ingredients are there, but it's missing something vital, something that will push them out of the mediocre and into the realms of the big boys. The vocals, for instance, aren't anything new. They're not offensively bad, and he doesn't resort to those stupid growls or squeals or whatever, but they just sound like a mutated version of Jacob Bannon and Dennis Lyxzen. The intensity and aggression is lacking something that really makes the reader sit up and take notice. "Sunsets Are For Muggings" is a case in point. You can hear that he's trying, but it just seems like he's trying way too hard to be Jacob Bannon rather than be himself. His scream is almost at the same pitch, and the lyrics are pretty unintelligible, just like Bannon's, but it doesn't provide that almost wall of sound that makes Converge so goddamn good. It all seems a bit empty.
The guitars are okay enough, though nothing exciting or technical. The riffs on "Your Friends Are Full Of ***" are pretty good, while sounding exactly like a Comeback Kid song, with the generic breakdown included, and "5th Period Massacre" makes it's case for best song on the album with it's sludgy riffs and Cancer Bats-esque groove. Obviously, they chug for about 99.99999999999% of the time without ever doing anything that could be considered noteworthy. Every use of octaves, tremelo picking, all of it has been done before. Nothing really interests, even slightly. At least with bands like the aforementioned Cancer Bats and Comeback Kid, they incorporate something new into the mix, some distinctive feature, something to get people moving and breaking ***, but it's just not there.
The bass, as per usual for the genre, cannot be heard at all, no matter how hard one tries. Literally, it may as well not be there, as the guitars are chugging most of the time, and it's so low down in the mix, so there is no point for it. The drums are unexceptional, but they provide some good fills at times, like on "I Am Going to Kill the President of the United States of America". It's amazing how in this review, I have used so many adjectives for uninteresting and boring, but that's because there really is nothing of note here; apart from the lyrics.
I mean, really bad. You would think that being a member of one of the biggest bands of the planet, Frank could have had someone help him with the lyrics or something, because this just awful. A prime example is in "5th Period Massacre" when he describes a school shooting incident from the point of view of the shooter:
"Why do you all hate me
Everyone's against me
Mommy don't care
Daddy cant help".
Here's a tip Frank. If you're going to write about a subject as sensitive as that, try not to use some 13 year old's diary as inspiration. Seriously.
My final concern with this album is the fact that I have no clue who would buy it. The hardcore kids and metalheads won't because he is affiliated with MCR, which is equivalent to being affiliated with Robert Mugabe; it's not a good thing. The teenage girls won't buy it because, well (no offence intended, I am NOT sexist) it's hardcore and most of them only want songs they can sing/cry along to. The scene kids won't buy it because it's not br00tal enough, and your parents won't buy it because they don't want their ears to bleed. So tell me, who is going to buy it"
For a side project, this band is not awful, and it proves that Iero isn't just some "emo pin-up", but rather a musician with his own message. Unfortunately, he doesn't enforce his message with enough conviction to make it appealing to most. Better luck next time Frank.