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My Chemical Romance - Black Parade

My Chemical Romance, Black Parade

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CONCEPT albums are nothing new but when assembled correctly, they can deliver the band in question a hit of epic proportions.

The last act to get it right was Green Day, whose American Idiot concept album helped them to become the biggest band on the planet in 2005.

US rockers My Chemical Romance could well achieve their own sizeable hit with The Black Parade, which combines elements of emo, metal, punk, pop and theatrical balladry in a heady style not heard since the days of Queen or Meat Loaf.

The ambitious scope of the album has already helped them to achieve their first UK No.1 hit single in the form of Welcome To The Black Parade – an epic slow-builder that provides a dazzling introduction to what lies in wait.

Vocalist Gerrard Way describes the album’s concept as “the story of a man who dies tragically before his time in a hospital. Death comes for him in the form of a Black Parade because his strongest childhood memory is of his father taking him to see a parade as a boy. The parade leads him to his final judgement. An examination of mortality.”

Needless to say, the album is a pretty dark experience, although some of the towering guitar riffs and sky-scraping choruses can’t fail to have rock fans singing along at the top of their voices.

It’s loud, proud and defiantly ambitious and quite probably My Chemical Romance’s finest work to date.

That’s not to say it’s entirely successful, however. And the mere nature of the concept means that it may turn off as many people as it turns on.

The first half, in particular, is very, very loud. The guitars flit between heavy, ball-busting rock and operatic glam rock, recalling the theatricality and excess of Alice Cooper and Guns N Roses put together.

Indeed, it’s not until the aforementioned former single that the album really hints at any ability to appeal beyond its fanbase.

But with tracks like I Don’t Love You, with its melodic intro and bittersweet sentiment, or the footstomping House Of Wolves, they begin to find a rhythm that is certainly capable of crossover appeal. The latter of the two, especially, is a track that’s made for stadiums and almost ’70s-based in its sense of showmanship.

There’s a tender side as well, as evidenced on tracks like the poignant, even haunting piano-led Cancer and the call to arms that is Disenchanted – surely a song just waiting to be embraced by a disillusioned teenage generation?

Tracks like Teenagers, meanwhile, offer a boisterous rock out that feels partly-inspired by the glam rock excess of Scissor Sisters or T-Rex, with a little grit thrown in (boys and girls with guns, etc). It’s actually one of the best tracks on the album – a guaranteed chant-along in live form that contains one of the easiest choruses and a truly endearing guitar solo.

Final track Famous Last Words ends things on another high, replacing much of the gloom and doom surrounding the morbid central conceit with a sense of optimism and defiance.

With the guitars at their most crisp and vibrant, some pounding drums and some fine, crunching melodies, you can’t help but feel empowered by Way’s defiant wail of “I am not afraid to keep on living, I am not afraid to walk this world alone, Honey if you stay I’ll be forgiven, Nothing you can say can stop me going home”.

Bassist Mikey Way says of Black Parade: “We want this to be the album that My Chemical Romance is remembered for. We all have records that shaped our childhood and teen years…. We want this album to do that for people. We want the entire world to be moved.”

The entire world may be a stretch, particularly if rock isn’t your thing, but don’t bet against The Black Parade winning many friends along the way.

Track listing:

  1. End
  2. Dead
  3. This Is How I Disappear
  4. Sharpest Lives
  5. Welcome To The Black Parade
  6. I Don’t Love You
  7. House Of Wolves
  8. Cancer
  9. Mama
  10. Sleep
  11. Teenagers
  12. Disenchanted
  13. Famous Last Words