The Black Parade

My Chemical Romance

Reprise, 2006



My Chemical Romance puts a new spin on their old image and takes a risk with their third album, The Black Parade, by moving away from the hard rock sound of 2004’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge toward a more theatrical, Broadway style of music.

The Black Parade tells the story of ‘The Patient,’ a man dying at a young age of an illness. The idea of the record is that death will come for everyone in the form of their strongest memory; in the case of The Patient, death comes in the form of a parade in the city that his father took him to when he was a boy. The story is told from various points of view -- The Patient himself and other characters in the parade -- as he reviews his life and realizes that he wasted too much of it and wishes he could have another chance.

Thanks to producer Rob Cavallo, My Chemical Romance is able to bring many different features to the album to help it come to life: string sections, a marching band, Jamie Muhoberac as a supporting member on the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hammond organ, and even vocals from Liza Minnelli on the song “Mama.”

The final beats of a hospital heart monitor usher in the first song, “The End.” The music kicks in and is followed by a whirlwind of lively choruses, dark lyrics, classic guitar solos and various effects that make it a great song. Singer and lyricist Gerard Way credits legendary albums such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, The Wall and A Night At The Opera as his influences here, and it shows.

Songs like “House of Wolves,” “The Sharpest Lives,” “Dead!” and “Teenagers” are particularly striking for their skillful lyrics, melodies and cohesion. Although the band may stumble with the choice of emotion in songs like “Disenchanted,” which seems out of character, they manage to pull it off with interesting tunes and vocal maneuvers.

Arguably the strongest song on the album is “Cancer,” a poignant testimony told from the perspective of a cancer patient, with such hauntingly descriptive lyrics as, “Call my Aunt Marie / help her gather all my things and bury me in all my favorite colors / My sisters and my brothers, still, I will not kiss you / because the hardest part of this is leaving you.”

The Black Parade serves as a sharp contrast to the band’s first CD, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, not only because original drummer Matt Pelissier is gone, but because Way has given up drugs and alcohol. Several songs here document his struggles: “The Sharpest Lives” reveals this with lyrics like “I’ve really been on a bender and it shows / Give me a shot to remember, and you can take all the pain away from me / The sharpest lives are the deadliest to lead.”

The album masterfully combines special effects (eerie voices opening and closing “Sleep” with recollections of night terrors, for example), imagery, creative lyrics and impressive music to create an epic record for our generation. Some have already called this the best rock album of the year, and that's not too far off, as the band's desire to deviate from its preconceived image makes The Black Parade worth investing in -- and possibly fodder for a Broadway musical. Liza Minnelli can sing lead.

Rating: A-

User Rating: B-


© 2006 Casey O and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise, and is used for informational purposes only.