Album: The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance
Released: October 23rd, 2006
My Chemical Romance was a rock band from Newark, New Jersey that was active from 2001 to 2013. The band’s line-up was made up of lead vocalist Gerard Way, guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero, bassist Mikey Way, and drummer Bob Bryer. Founded in the wake of 9/11, My Chemical Romance released their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love in 2002 that was followed by Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge two years later, which led to their commercial success. The band topped their previous releases with the 2006 concept album, The Black Parade, which gained a decent amount of critical acclaim and led them on to an arduous touring schedule. The band’s final release, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, was also a concept album that had more pop sentiments and received positive reviews despite alienating some fans. My Chemical romance broke up in 2013 and have since released a greatest hits album in 2014 and a tenth anniversary reissue of The Black Parade in 2016.
The Story and the Songs:
The Black Parade begins with “The End.”, a track that’s tempo matches the blips of an EKG and invites the listener to the story that follows. The song is a short introduction that’s chord progression is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh?” from their concept album, The Wall. Distorted guitar accompanies the EKG flat-lining as the track “Dead” brings a bit more life to the album with its up-tempo hooks. The character in the story has passed away and is now coming to terms with his loss of life. “This is How I Disappear” charges in by showcasing the band’s rhythm section during a short verse, leading into a catchy chorus. Electronic synth bumps the pace of “The Sharpest Lives” which juxtaposes this more industrial rock sound with surf-rock guitar chords before grooving into the chorus. Echoing piano notes begin “Welcome to the Black Parade”; what is most likely the most well-known song in the band’s catalog, “Welcome to the Black Parade conjures images of a gothic marching band in the ruins of a bombed out city through its additional instrumentation and guitar lines that are reminiscent of the band Queen.
Taking things to a more melancholy method, “I Don’t Love You” is a straightforward rock ballad, making it one of the less memorable tracks on the album. A sudden shot of adrenaline comes in with the bombastic drum intro of “House of Wolves.” One of the more dance-able tracks on the album, “House of Wolves” is a veritable powerhouse of melody and punk rock sensibility. “Cancer” reins in the pace with its heavy use of piano and Way’s layered vocals; the song builds slowly as the difficulty of cancer treatment is described. Bombs in the distance herald the acoustic guitar that crescendos to full volume in “Mama.” Reminiscent of a polka, My Chemical Romance melds the old world genre with more power chords before entering a terrifying breakdown as the minor shifts manufacture a malevolence tempered by a cameo by Liza Minelli and a swaying waltz. “Sleep” begins with a tape being rewound and replayed over and over.; the voice in the tape describes night terrors before segueing into a rock ballad that features yet another catchy hook in its chorus.
“Teenagers” espouses the fears of adults who see the youth they do not understand. Anthemic in its simplicity and sentiment, “Teenagers” is a fun track to sing along to (at least, while you’re still of the age). “Disenchanted” winds down by showing the quieter side of the band again, lamenting the time lost as the character reminisces about life and his expectations of it. “Famous Last Words” is the last track on the album and closes out with a bang. Palm-muted guitars and sporadic drum hits open the song before one of the most memorable choruses in My Chemical Romance’s discography. Through the trials and memories of the previous songs, the character is at peace with his life and can move on. There is a also hidden track on the album; the aptly titled “Blood” is a short, jaunty tune that sound like it could have come from pre-World War II and describes endless calls for donating blood.
Many fans, myself included, consider The Black Parade to be My Chemical Romance’s magnum opus. It singlehandedly placed them above the other bands in the “emo” genre and allowed them to break through to mainstream popularity. The variety on the album adds a uniqueness to their sound while maintaining the same gritty, punk sleaziness that appealed to the fans of their previous two albums. I was lucky enough to see the headlining tour on which they played the album in its entirety and, though the band broke up in 2013, The Black Parade remains a singular achievement in 2000s rock that holds its own in music history, even twelve years later.
Please enjoy some song recommendations and a song from the album below!
Song recommendations: “Dead” , “The Sharpest Lives” , “Mama” , “Famous Last Words”