Review Summary: Shut down the parade, we're marching down empty streets
My Chemical Romance’s “The Black Parade” was a very divisive album; nonetheless, it carved a solid legacy, and inspired a hefty number of bands that are currently making music in the scene. Excitement was running high for the re-release, which came after an admittedly funny mix up about the band’s apparent “return” that caused millions of people disappointment due to poor marketing on the part of Warner Brothers / Reprise. Unfortunately; “Living with Ghosts” is nothing more than a scratch take of half-cocked demos, several throwaway tracks, and clear cash grabbing intent.
While I understand that most of the material on here is demos, and thus unexpected to have high production values; it’s almost abundantly clear with this that they just contacted the producer of Black Parade, asked him to go into the folder of “shit we didn’t use”, and just send the distributors random .wav files. It would have been very easy (especially for a re-release with a budget like this) to very quickly go into the files, and do a very quick mix simply to even levels out, and make certain parts of the music actually audible. Gerard’s vocals on the demos are often so low in the mix, that you can’t even hear them; when they’re not super low, they’re painfully high in the mix to the point where it detracts everything else. That’s not to mention the rabid inconsistencies in the guitar tone, crushingly loud drum cymbals, and just an overall sense of laziness.
The material itself isn’t that different from the final products bar a few demos that weren’t used in the final “Black Parade” album, just the originals without any cool moments in the rough takes to justify listening to. The live demos just have nothing to offer over the originals, and don’t provide any particularly interesting glimpses into the band’s recording process. The new songs that weren’t in the final release, such as “Emily”, are mostly mediocre, and have nothing much to offer bar a few catchy riffs here and there. Arguably the only decent things provided by this record are “The Five of Us Are Dying”, which was an early draft of The Black Parade’s title track that’s actually interesting enough, and leveled enough to listen to and enjoy, and parts of “All the Angels”, which is a relatively nice little ballad.
This was a whopping example of a re-release that actually had potential, if just a little bit of additional post-production was done, along with actual involvement from the band itself; bar their statement of (sorry that our record label was hyping you up, we’re not actually coming back, peace y’all). An unfortunate cash grab under the moniker of a band that prided itself on enhanced theatrics, and fantastic energy.