Breaking from their screamo past, My Chemical Romance breaches new territory with their groundbreaking third album, The Black Parade. Like Green Day’s American Idiot, The Black Parade is a rock opera mashup of the band’s edgier roots and the classic rock elements of the 1970s, sounding like a hybrid of Queen, David Bowie and MCR’s older screamo style. Its blazing guitar riffs and prominent drumming give each song this unique verve, while lead singer Gerard Way is superb throughout, conveying raw angst when the mood darkens and fervent emotion when the more introspective tone calls for it. Way’s charismatic flair and striking personality makes him the only singer capable of pulling this album off, and with an overarching premise of a cancer patient’s journey after death that sways from a tale of darkness and anger to reflection and redemption, The Black Parade truly impresses as a uniquely cohesive rock ‘n’ roll entry that still manages to present a wide amount of variety. While the unrefined screamo sound of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge may be missed by some fans, My Chemical Romance’s incredible new album draws on the classic rock roots of the genre and still brings their own typical emo influences, easily establishing this entry as the band’s definitive sound.
Broad in its scope and execution, “Welcome To The Black Parade” embodies the spirit and plot of The Black Parade, emphatically delivering a grand tale that is a pure spectacle to behold as it unfolds. Switching from a melancholy and slow introduction of piano and buildup drumming from Bob Bryar, this standout track swells and busts the tempo wide open with exhilarating guitar hooks and frantic drums that gives it a lively and fun vibe. Ray Toro and Frank Iero’s upbeat guitar riffs match Way’s uniquely shrill vocals to make this complex rock anthem and all its tempo changes all the more enjoyable and memorable.
Serving as one of the album’s more emotional and introspective pieces, the bluesy rock ballad “I Don’t Love You” adds variety and depth to an already impressive lineup. Mikey Way’s groovy bass line adds to the bluesy rock feel, while Gerard Way dominates the proceedings with gloomily impassioned vocal fluctuations. The background vocals and guitar-chugging lend to the melancholy tone as well, making this ballad an enjoyable display of the band’s versatility.
“Teenagers” is not as memorable as “Welcome To The Black Parade,” but it certainly is the most fun and functions well as the album’s feel-good, fist-pumping arena rock anthem. The quirky additions in the background add to the catchy chorus as resonating guitar riffs and splashy drums pave the way for Way to cry out, “They say that teenagers scare the living s**t out of me / They could care less as long as someone’ll bleed / So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose / Maybe they’ll leave you alone but not me.”
With aggressive delights like “Famous Last Words” and “The Sharpest Lives” to complement sentimental rockers like “Disenchanted” and “Cancer,” My Chemical Romance delivers their most cohesive and complete album yet. Harnessing the combined rock spirit of Queen, Bowie, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and The Smashing Pumpkins, My Chemical Romance has never sounded better than this classic rock ‘n’ roll sound. The screamo influences are still present, but don’t overpower this classic rock sound, making The Black Parade a simultaneously fresh and familiar experience. Fans of Green Day, The Used, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Escape The Fate, 30 Seconds To Mars, Rise Against, AFI, Queen and David Bowie should be right at home with this album, which soundly proves that sometimes breaking outside the mold is more than worth it in the rock genre.
Final Score: 9.3/10
Rank: 2nd (four total albums)
- The End.
- This Is How I Disappear
- The Sharpest Lives
- Welcome To The Black Parade
- I Don’t Love You
- House Of Wolves
- Famous Last Words