Review Summary: You're not a slave, to your past
It was just this past October when Frank Iero, and his band, The Patience, survived to a near death experience, when their tour van was hit by a bus while on tour in Australia, fortunately, there were no fatal victims. On their latest record, however, Iero doesn’t sound like he’s remained unharmed, making the collision a bit ironic, considering how much Parachutes pounders over the matters of life and death, mental health, addiction, and a constant search for self-acceptance, it deals with so much struggles that it makes you wonder whether it was a good thing for Iero to barely make it out alive, as grim as that might sound. “The record is called Parachutes because I started thinking about life, how we’re put here without asking to be” recalls the singer/songwriter on the only interview he’s given since the crash, and after cancelling their remaining 2016 tour dates.
The record itself is as tumultuous as the events that surrounded the band before and after the album was put together, and that’s exactly how you would want it to sound. Parachutes sees the ever changing rhythm guitarist Frank Iero raising the stakes once again, throughout the twelve conflicted songs, the record proves that it isn’t just another half-baked project to stay afloat in relevancy while an MCR reunion happens, on the contrary, Parachutes feels like a true rock statement delivered in a very straight forward manner, never does Frank hold anything back, once again, he’s really spilling his guts and tackling every one of his thoughts that keep him awake at night, this time, however, it doesn’t seem like he cares how broken and troubled he might come across: “Let's all be difficult and never try too hard/ let's all be critical of those who show their heart/ If this sounds typical then congratulate yourself/ I'm proud I'm miserable but don't tell anyone because I'm breaking down”. But even when feeling this ashamed of himself, he’s also constantly seeking for closure: “Maybe I'm just fine with it/ Finally proud to live/ Inside my own skin/ Maybe that's just who I am/ Maybe I'm a mess.” Displaying all these aforementioned feelings on the exact same track.
Another relevant factor to consider on Parachutes, is that, now that he’s backed with a full noisy band, Frank isn’t afraid to explore and try different sounds, while also improving on his singing and urgent delivery. So, while his debut saw him blasting some catchy pop-punk hooks, with an occasional post-punk influence here and there, Parachutes is following suit; driven by Iero’s mad vision, it takes the musical project a huge step forward. “It's the truth not the lies that'll hurt the ones we love/ So I tried my best to be good enough” sings Frank, on the crushing opener, “World Destroyer”, marrying some relentless riffing with furious drumming, the top-notch production values become clear, while “Veins! Veins!! Veins!!!” doesn’t slow down the chaotic pace, introducing some meaty bass lines for Iero to deliver, yet another, passionate vocal performance, with just the right amount of pained lyrics to go along with it: “I’ll stay up all night on the floor/ Taking pills to keep me warm/ Until I’m not sure I exist anymore/ But that’s just fine it’s who I am/ I appreciate my pain/ Cause I never had a choice/ And it was you or nothing can hurt me like I hurt myself.”
The rawness with which most songs are performed, works also as another statement from the front man, regarding his other musical project, the one he silently buried, the very pissed off, hardcore punk, and very underrated, NJ outfit, Leathermouth. Turns out Iero did not turn his back on screaming his lungs out and writing dirty punk songs, because he brought the best from Leathermouth to his current band, just listen to the aforementioned songs if you want to find out for yourself, “Dear Percocet, I Don't Think We Should See Each Other Anymore” works as another fine example of this, a fiery two minutes long call to arms that dwells on pills, numbing the pain, but eventually, deciding to confront life as it comes.
Iero really gives the impression that he crafted these tracks in order to stay alive while maintaining his characteristic artistic ambition, rather than just trying to please old ears, at the same time, though, you get the feeling that anyone who fell in love with The Black Parade ten years ago, will find a very strong connection with this record too, in that sense, Parachutes does feel like a very elaborate and consistent work, just like My Chem’s best material did. That being said, there’s a whole lot of variation on this thing to keep the listener not only engaged, but rocking out as well, even when the album stagnates at certain points on a couple tracks, “Remedy”, “Viva Indifference”, it doesn’t really detract from the emotion that’s just constantly pouring.
For those seeking for the most accessible sounds, should find everything they are looking for on the singles “I’m a Mess”, and “Oceans”, proving, once again, that the band can write some solid, and catchy as hell, punk fueled tunes. Perhaps the song that will surprise most listeners, even those who are familiar with Iero, sits right in the middle part of the album, “Miss Me” is a country song that works as a nice change of pace and rhythm, as well as another sound for Iero to display his internal conflicts, in what is quite possibly, his most heartfelt performance on Parachutes, as he doesn’t seem to care to find himself so vulnerable and thoughtful: “It's been this way all my life/ I swear I've been a loser all my goddamned life/ Some people, they get up after life has beat them down/ Pretty sure I never made a sound/ Hell, I don't think I ever got off the ground.”
On his sophomore effort with this project, Frank Iero proves that he has no plans of slowing down, he sounds more focused and comfortable since The Black Parade era, he finds himself with a lot of creative freedom and the right sound to scream his mind out, willing to collect more scars, and dying to live the rest of his life.