In one of my seasonal shows we are preforming “I’m not okay (I promise)”, a My Chem. song from the album “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge”. I was playing it off of my dad’s phone during the car ride home from band practice along with the only other song I knew by them, “Welcome to the Black Parade”. As it turns out, I left that song and the entire album open so when my dad went to commute to work the next day he gave this rock opera a listen. So, we’re taking a little detour off of the Rolling Stone Magazine Greatest 500 albums and covering this one.
The Black Parade is a story about “The patient” who dies of cancer and is greeted by death taking the form of his happiest childhood memory; a marching band he saw with his father. Throughout the tracks, he reflects on the life he led in an interesting way. It’s not all in order like a timeline. It opens with him flat-lining on a hospital bed and later going through periods that were important to him and his interactions with some of his unnamed friends and family members.
I think the music perfectly embodies so many of the emotions that are felt by this main character. In songs like “This Is How I Disappear” which is about desperation and the feeling of insanity, the guitars blare fast deep chords in a minor key, with one extremely long fall off until it picks back up into the chorus. The next song “The Sharpest Lives” is similar to me. The insanity seems to fade out a bit, but this desperation and need to forget the past has taken control. At the beginning there is this deep voice that doubles the first verse and adds a darker sound. It’s quick, it’s faint, but it’s a really cool detail.
The vocals are also imperative to setting up this album correctly. “Cancer” is a song about the patient dealing with this disease and his health decline. The singing in this song is groggy like molasses, showing the will to live just drain out of him. There are so many clever lines throughout the entire album. One of my personal favorites is “Another contusion, my funeral jag. Here’s my resignation I’ll serve it in drag”.
I truly enjoyed this album in it’s entirety. The darkness and anger conveyed through the fourteen tracks is kind of electrifying and it’s easy to see how genuine the music is. It’s sad, it’s intense, but for me, it’s refreshing to hear when all that’s on the radio is feel-good repetitive pop music.
To be totally honest, I don’t really know much about the band My Chemical Romance. Sure, I know their name and probably a few of their songs, but in reality I can’t name any them off the top of my head. So this album was essentially all new to me. I couldn’t tell you before poking around on the internet that it was more than ten years old, or how many albums they had before it (2) or after it (1).
I also don’t really know exactly what emo music is, how it is different from punk and not sure I care.
As Max mentioned above he had left the album open on my iPhone one evening, so the next day I checked it out. Played it start to finish and when it was done I felt sad. I mean it was 7:30 in the morning and I was totally bummed out. I texted him and told him so and said I don’t need to listen this again. After songs called “The End”, “Dead”, “Cancer”, “Disenchanted”, “Famous Last Words” and “Blood” I had enough. However, to do this review I did listen a few more times and came to appreciate it a bit more.
I also told him how much I admired the lead singer’s (Gerard Way) intensity. Way does not hold back. He lays it all out there on every song for the entire album. That’s exactly what this piece demands; total commitment of the soul. But he is not alone. The band is right there with him unleashing powerful guitars, drums, keyboards and harmonies to let out the rage that leads us through this journey to death. The demons are all on display and anger flows as we explore all of the facets of death and remorse.
R.I.P. My Chemical Romance.
“And though you’re dead and gone believe me
Your memory will carry on”