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My Chemical Romance

Welcome To The Black Parade

RS: 4of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4.5of 5 Stars

2006

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My Chemical Romance may be the oldest young band in America. None of the members -- singer Gerard Way, his brother and bassist Mikey, drummer Bob Bryar and guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero -- is old enough to have bought David Bowie's Diamond Dogs on the day it came out. But The Black Parade, the New Jersey group's third studio album, is the best mid-Seventies record of 2006, a rabid, ingenious paraphrasing of echoes and kitsch from rock's golden age of bombast.

The opening fanfare, "The End," blows up like an outtake from Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies, with glam-Godzilla guitars and spook-choir hurrahs. "Dead!" is a sleek, bleak bruiser, like Queen's "Keep Yourself Alive" in widow's weeds. And in the hyperoperatic "Mama," Way -- playing a soldier up to his neck in blood, raging against the woman who gave him life -- briefly duets with Liza Minnelli, who belts her two big lines only to have Way sing back at her with vicious obscenity. It is brassy casting, as if Minnelli has been dropped into a Glenn Danzig production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children. It also sounds like an idea Alice Cooper (the singer) might have had in 1976 while golfing with George Burns.

But this is not the Seventies, and My Chemical Romance are very much a band of their time -- post-9/11. The first song Way wrote for the group (with ex-drummer Matt Pelisser) was "Skylines and Turnstiles," based on his experience that day in New York, watching the Twin Towers fall in front of him. There is a lot of fire and rubble in these songs, too. And there are bodies all over the place -- dead in the streets ("Welcome to the Black Parade"); near death in hospital beds ("Dead!" and "Cancer"); or just too numb to give a shit about morality ("House of Wolves") or forgiveness ("I Don't Love You"). Starting with a riff that stabs and stutters like an old Buzzcocks lick and packing a bridge that is pure Iron Maiden, "This Is How I Disappear" is an exciting, perverse goodbye, from one lost soul to the object of his suffocating affection. "And without you is how I disappear/And live my life alone/Forever now," Way sings from the depths of obsession -- and, it seems, his grave. The poetry is rickety, but the self-pity is arena-ready.

Next to that, My Chemical Romance's 2004 album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, is orthodox buzz-saw misery. Apparently, the band -- which co-produced the vacuum-packed overkill of The Black Parade with Rob Cavallo, who also worked on Green Day's punk-suite hit, American Idiot -- now believes that if you're going to feel sorry for yourself, you might as well do it with gusto. "When I grow up, I want to be nothing at all!" Way wails in "The End," surrounded by what sounds like ELO with a case of G n' R. The excess comes with diminishing returns. Cavallo and the group over-rely on the avenging-army drumroll shtick, and what is deliciously vintage for most of the record -- Way's bright, breathless yelp, with harmonies stacked to eternity; the lightning bolts of Brian May and Mick Ronson cutting through Toro's and Iero's widescreen grind -- loses luster by Tracks Twelve and Thirteen, "Disenchanted" and "Famous Last Words." The best last words should have been Track Eleven, "Teenagers," a tight fist of T. Rex-style crunch with a great punch-the-air chorus: "They said all/Teenagers scare/The living shit out of me."

Teenagers are the ones who should be scared shitless. They are about to inherit a hell on this earth that is more terrifying, day by day, than anything Way imagines here. In fact, the most realistic and contemporary thing about this album's supercharged-Seventies Armageddon is his bitter, almost jealously guarded helplessness in nearly every song. Content to be the Queen of complaint (and damn good at it), My Chemical Romance offer no answers and give no hope -- except for the shot of light that comes in the second manic half of "Welcome to the Black Parade," whenever Way hits the vocal hook. "We'll carry on," he sings repeatedly, at full rock-hero tilt. He doesn't say where. But the way he says it sounds great and worth believing, no matter how old you are.

DAVID FRICKE

(Posted: Oct 16, 2006)

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Review 1 of 23

7 of 8 found this comment useful ( 88% )

Nisrin writes:

5of 5 Stars

This album is truly amazing!! My Chemical Romance truly out-did themselves on this album. The theatrical sense of the album really put me in the sense as if I watching a movie from start to finish - in this album, it finishes as the "patient" carries on. The messages this album creates is inspiring because it gives an optimistic point of view as opposed to just dieing. I rate it 5+ starts, definitely a true master piece!

Jan 8, 2007 15:19:33

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Review 2 of 23

11 of 13 found this comment useful ( 85% )

XWildEyedJokersX writes:

5of 5 Stars

This album is one of the most exciting albums, filled with love, regret, and hate. The Queen-like guitar solos and Gerard's exquisite voice blend ever so well together. Bob did a fabulous job playing drums. This is a band that will be around here for the longest time. A truely, time-less band.

Nov 7, 2006 08:24:31

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Review 3 of 23

1 of 3 found this comment useful ( 33% )

SueXian writes:

4of 5 Stars

i really like this album, but couldn't believe how over-the-top some of the 'borrowing' was! the song "black parade" opens and closes exactly like Suit of Lights' "Goodbye Silk City", then there's KISS' "Detroit Rock City" riff & countless Queen references throughout... but i guess if you're gonna borrow, might as well go for the best !

Nov 5, 2006 12:55:16

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Review 4 of 23

7 of 62 found this comment useful ( 11% )

LauraLynn writes:

2of 5 Stars

Wow, a lot of love for the Black Parade. Poor, misguided souls. I agree it is heavily 70's influenced, to the degree that there is barely an original guitar riff in the lot. When you listen to an album for the first time and can predict the next direction the music is going to take in a song then something is wrong. The originality of the previous two albums is lost. I honestly cried tears of let down midway through this album; I lived through the 70's once and do not want to go back. What's next, shoulder length afros and ten minute drum solos? Ok guys, this album fullfilled some rock and roll fantasy for you, but please leave behind the cheesy guitars and lyrics on the next one. I miss the devastation of Cemetary Drive, a heartwrenching song minus the tongue- in-cheek.

Oct 30, 2006 19:53:50

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Review 5 of 23

4 of 4 found this comment useful ( 100% )

SolidChamp writes:

4of 5 Stars

Very good effort from MCR. Towers over their previous album "Three Cheers...", and takes a distinct departure from their previous sound. Overall, an incredibly surprising album.

Oct 30, 2006 09:47:41

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Review 6 of 23

5 of 5 found this comment useful ( 100% )

Muse4444 writes:

5of 5 Stars

Love it!! reminds me of pink floyds the wall in certain songs, its got that rock opera type vibe to it - fantastic. Not too many albums you can listen to beginning to end over and over, this is one.

Oct 29, 2006 16:40:24

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Review 7 of 23

3 of 3 found this comment useful ( 100% )

danielle123 writes:

5of 5 Stars

As an older listener, (older as in I remembered when Hendrix and Joplin died),I wasn't expecting this new CD from MCR to be much different from what they've done in the past. This definitely is a more mature sound and in my humble opinion will hold its own. Each track is excellent, the songs flow from each other. I have not enjoyed a CD from start to finish in years like this one, thank you MCR for this one!

Oct 29, 2006 14:35:37

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Review 8 of 23

3 of 3 found this comment useful ( 100% )

sweeper60 writes:

5of 5 Stars

The best album of the year by far. Every song has a completely different sound. The chorus to Famous Last Words is absolutely incredible. Teenagers is a hilarious but truthful song. Definitely a must have.

Oct 29, 2006 12:14:09

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