Welcome to the second part of the My Chemical Retrospective. Today, we’re looking at what is probably the band’s most well known album, The Black Parade. And for good reason. It’s awesome!
I think I lied and said I didn’t like this album as much as I did, or I just ended up liking it more as I got older. Either way, this album sort of solidifies what My Chemical Romance is. They’re theatrical and a little weird, but awe-inspiring all the same.
If you’re not aware, The Black Parade is centered around a protagonist called The Patient as he looks back on his life after dying from cancer. The album literally starts at the end with a wonderful little Bowie ripoff called ‘The End.’ I laughed my ass off when I heard ‘Five Years’ for the first time like a year later and noticed how much the band aped from it.
After that, the album is the raucous rock and roll circus that follows The Patient as he explores lost relationships, his fears, and coming to terms with leaving people behind. I know that My Chemical Romance was all about death, doom and gloom in their songs, but it was never as peppy and emotional as it was on this album. Plus, anyone who can look at the fact Liza Minelli was a guest star on this record and NOT call it their most theatrical album can go straight to hell. Hell, every day I wonder how American Idiot got a stage musical before this album did. It was made to have elaborate sets and large-than-life singers.
I’m still forever sad I never got to see them perform as The Black Parade. I heard the early version of ‘Disenchanted’ when they did the final tour for Three Cheers, but it ended up being a very different song in the end.
Speaking of ‘Disenchanted,’ I think this album addresses the issue I had in my Three Cheers retrospective. I feel like I understand this album better now than when I was 16. I understand what Gerard is talking about on ‘Disenchanted’ about losing your heroes and feeling like you’re growing apart from your previous self. I couldn’t listen to ‘Cancer’ for nearly two years because it brought back too many painful memories of my great-grandmother and grandfather dying from the disease.
I always got ‘Teenagers’ though. Holy Hell.
Not to say that there isn’t the silliness of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge on this album. One only needs to listen ‘The Sharpest Lives’ for that, but this album is definitely a different animal. It was the band finally truly embracing their Queen, Bowie, and musical theater influences and making an album that matched. It was also really coming into their own to try and be a positive influence on people. A lot of the messages on this album are about carrying on and facing the world on your own and having the strength to do so. Which is a powerful message for people who are fighting their own battles and looking back on their lives with questions. I always have tears in my eyes every time I listen to ‘Famous Last Words.’ Proof that sincerity doesn’t have to be quiet. Scream it through amplifiers if you have to.
Unrelated, but how have I been in the Steampunk/Retrofuturism scene for nearly four years and never seen any of my friends swing dance to ‘House of Wolves’? THAT SONG IS MADE FOR SWINGING AND CARTOON WOLVES IN HELL. YOU DISAPPOINT ME, STEAMPUNKS.
At least I have Voltaire and Hellblinki singing ‘Blood.’ That song is cabaret as hell and I can’t wait to see the unreleased video when May Death Never Stop You comes out.