imageYou’ve got to admire My Chemical Romance. These five boys from Jersey have faced more knockbacks than most throughout their short career. Despite releasing two incredibly solid albums prior to ‘The Black Parade’, they’ve faced one of the most vicious scene backlashes in recent history with their growing fame. When their first album dropped, the boys were respected by the few kids that knew of them for their revolutionary take on a tired sound, and were considered a credible band. Yet the release of ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’, and along with it the media frenzy that accompanied lead single ‘I’m not OK (I Promise)’, saw the scene turn its back on the band, as the mainstream embraced them.

So how will their popularity fare along with the release of ‘The Black Parade’? In all honesty, this album is going to make Gerard Way & Co. millionaires. You have to admire the way it’s been marketed, what with the secrecy, the reinvention of the band’s image, and the coverage the new single ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ has received. I know that it’s expected to be a sub-par album, as most over-hyped products are, but the truth of the matter is ‘The Black Parade’ is a cracking idea that has been executed beautifully.

With Rob Cavallo at the helm, ‘The Black Parade’ is likely to eclipse Green Day‘s ‘American Idiot’ as the biggest unit shifter of his career. Between them, they’ve created a 45-minute masterpiece far more theatrical and dramatic than anything the band has previously done. Introductory song ‘The End’ starts off as a calm, acoustic piece, and builds to a climax complete with Queen-esque vocals and stadium-filling guitar lines which will sound spot on when the band launch their arena tour in early 2007. ‘Dead’ begins to explore the lyrical ideas behind the album – how death comes in the form of a memory and its impact on the person experiencing it. At times it feels like it could be a Green Day track, if it wasn’t for Gerard Way’s instantly recognisable vocal tones. ‘This is how I disappear’ continues in the ‘pop-punk meets classic rock’ vein, while also being a more conventional MCR track. ‘The Sharpest Lives’ is where the album really begins to take off, building from a simple synth introduction to a truly infectious yet theatrical chorus.

If you haven’t heard the lead single ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ yet, turn on your TV or radio, and it’s a virtual guarantee you’ll come across it being played within a few minutes or so on some station or another. It has received massive airplay, and rightly so as it excels itself in being different from other rock singles around at the moment. The Queen comparisons are without a doubt inevitable, and there’s no escaping the influence here, yet it still stands on its own two feet as a distinctively MCR song, epic may it be. With its marching band drumming, piano introduction and Bo-Rap-esque tempo changes, it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album as the standout track and it’s perfectly understandable why it was chosen as the first single. ‘Cancer’ follows in a close second, with a simplistic arrangement of primarily just piano and vocals. It builds itself to a rock-ballad which wouldn’t sound out of place on one of those ‘Greatest Love Songs Ever’ compilations. The closing track ‘Famous Last Words’ wraps up ‘The Black Parade’ on an uplifting note, with a resonating chorus of ‘I am not afraid to keep on living, I am not afraid to walk this world alone’ that almost brought a tear to this reviewer’s eye. It’s a fantastic ending to a truly remarkable album, which will undeniably propel My Chemical Romance into the stratosphere of celebrity.

‘The Black Parade’ was always going to test a few people’s patience, no matter how it sounded, purely because of the hype surrounding the band and the success they have recently been enjoying. Regardless of what the scenesters are telling you to believe, this album is nigh on brilliant, and shows just how far one band can progress their sound over the course of a few years. My Chemical Romance is here to stay, so you better get used to it.

Andy R