In the summer of ’05 I bought tickets to Warped Tour, Houston, TX. My only purpose for attending was to see ‘My Chemical Romance’ ravage the stage. I had never been a part of a mosh pit in my life but once hit single “I’m Not Okay” blasted off I snapped and began to pummel the nearest fan. I left that day with a set list, concert tee and a sore neck.
MCR is a New Jersey based group that began when Gerard Way (lead vocalist) and Matt Pelissier (original drummer) got together to see what they could create. Once the two added Mikey Way (Bassist and Gerard’s Brother), Ray Toro (lead guitarist) and Frank Iero (guitarist), they were set to create slightly morbid, awkwardly melodic, but always entertaining music.
Their sophomore release “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” was a gargantuan in popularity and in musical achievement. MCR was able to master a revolutionary sound reminiscent in its distinction from other bands, which had effect that Guns n Roses had when they destroyed the Hair Metal Era. MCR was able keep a balance between all of their influences without digging themselves into a sub-genre label. ‘Three Cheers’ was delightfully genius, but did MCR keep this fire on their latest release, ‘The Black Parade’? The answer depends on what trait of MCR is the listeners’ favorite.
Way has traded in his straight jet-black hair for bleach blonde but he still maintains his appeal as a strong front man. His vocals are one of the standout straits of MCR. Like “Three Cheers” the vocals occasionally contain harmonies that despite the gloomy aura resemble a church choir melding like a welder in his shop. The lyrics obviously still stem from Way’s past lifestyle and issues but are a contributing factor to the bands popularity.
The melancholy vocal tone correlates perfectly with the musical arrangement, which as a whole is a solid in every aspect of the band.
Many things remain similar to “Three Cheers” but there are a trio of alterations that will make or break this album depending on the listeners taste.
First of all, MCR is known for the way their singles splashed ice water in your face and then slapped you. I vividly recall being inspired to pillage. Singles like “Thank You For the Venom” that led this charge don’t exist on this album. The songs never peak to hard rock even though the album feels like its building up to it.
Secondly there are acoustic guitars and piano. Not the whole time (thank God), but they do play big roles on tracks like “The End” and “Disenchanted.”
Lastly, Toro takes charge on lead like a bull. On almost every track he bursts out his cage to unleash electric mayhem, wailing with malevolent intent. His guitar technical prowess has doubled in that not only does he provide superfluous face melting but experiments with the different effects.
MCR has flipped the script. The change of Way’s hair color, and the replacement Pellsier with Bob Bryar is not the only evident change. The differences are clear. “The Black Parade” does not hit. I felt no incentive to bang my head or start the revolution. The album is a really good album. It combines elements of genre like swing and band that are cleverly intertwined in the crevices of tracks. The acoustic work is smooth but just unexpected. MCR hasn’t sold out like most bands do they just offer a choice. Way still wails on every track and provides emotionally powerful lyrics that a lot of people will be able to identify with.
“Black Parade” is MCR with a makeover and it will be the fan’s decision whether they buy it or rip it from their best friend.