Release Date: October 24, 2006
Green Day did it, so did the Killers. Who knew that the rock opera concept album would become a new trend? My Chemical Romance are the latest to attempt a full-length story cycle complete with over-the-top theatrical vocals, loads of sky high harmonies, and epic guitar solos. And, like the bands before them, it completely works.
What separates The Black Parade from its peers more than anything is its tone. The album’s all about dying, waiting to die, pining for loss after death…. you get the idea. It’s a dark album, but also My Chemical Romance’s most infectious, diverse piece of work yet. Within its aurally narrow genre, it’s a staggering achievement, and nothing is more impressive than the lead single, Welcome To The Black Parade. Stylistically it’s all over the place and easily the album’s most over the top moment. Queen-cloned guitars battle with a choir and Gerard Way’s furious, impassioned singing to create a nearly transcendent piece of music. Opener The End and rocker Mama are nearly as dramatic. The latter features a guest turn by Liza Minnelli, a move sure to turn a few heads but perfectly fitted to the feel of the song. Other tracks are more straightforward, like the catchy stomper Dead! and the harmonized hell storm The Sharpest Lives. But, even the songs that aren’t mini stage set pieces are among the band’s best work.
Cancer, an agonizing ballad appearing in the second half of the album is the most heartbreakingly sad song any band has recorded this year. That, and it’s also utterly gorgeous, using flourishes of orchestration to maximum effect. Teenagers is also worthy of praise for its glam-stomp and fist-in-the-air chorus. With The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance may have created that vital, crossover album. The one they’ll be remembered for when the last of the black confetti has been swept away. A-
Key Tracks: Welcome To The Black Parade, Cancer, The Sharpest Lives