If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s animated GIFs of cats. If there’s a second thing the internet loves, it’s arguing about everything, all the time, forever and ever. Thus, our new debate column is born! Next up: theatrical punk trailblazers MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE. What do you think their best album is? Here are our editorial staff’s personal picks.
THREE CHEERS FOR SWEET REVENGE
By Cassie Whitt
When you really break it down, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge was all about exorcising demons—whether it was battling the souls of a thousand evil men (in concept), cleansing the more personal ghosts haunting the psyche of frontman Gerard Way, the cathedral aesthetic of it all or those onstage and in-audience calls to the spirit, purifying flames and unlistening saints (though we never lost hope that they might hear us). That time and this album were on another plane. From the inside, it was a magical sphere that entrapped us and possessed us all in the most cathartic, soul-piercing way. From the outside, it changed things—really changed them. It upped the stakes and smeared blood in the eyes of this scene.
All that is well and good, but why was Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge the best? That’s tough to explain, but I think it falls somewhere between the way 10 years later the whispered part of “The Ghost Of You” is still chill-inducing and the way “Thank You For The Venom” awakens an urge to raise a fist and scream in the ears of everyone who ever doubted you in even the most serene environments. It’s in the way the album takes you from cemetery gates to hell then back and to Old West-style gunfights. It’s in screaming solos, the way these songs made the band members thrash and break things (and themselves), that unforgettable bass opening of “Give ’Em Hell, Kid,” the snarling, teeth-clenched insanity of the lyrical delivery and rhythms that demand you kick, not just tap, your foot.
But it’s mostly in the blood and spit that held it all together, making this concept album real and so dangerous.
THE BLACK PARADE
By Philip Obenschain
My Chemical Romance proved their commercial appeal and broader musical ambitions with their breakthrough sophomore album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Although that remains a fan favorite, it was the group's 2006 follow-up, The Black Parade, that flexed just how far their range could stretch and their higher artistic aims could reach. Perfecting the poppier formula established by Three Cheers, but fusing it with classic rock and operatic tendencies, The Black Parade achieved not only Platinum sales status, but the highest chart positions of MCR's career, propelling them to certifiable rock-star status and garnering the attention of broader national press outlets. While it's easy to call it their best simply by virtue of its commercial success, the record stands as My Chem's most fully realized musical achievement as well, boasting singles like “Teenagers” and “Welcome To The Black Parade” alongside genre-bending tunes like “House Of Wolves” and “Disenchanted.” Helmed by Rob Cavallo, The Black Parade's production is timeless, and perfectly suits its thematic fixation on death and the afterlife. While MCR would continue to evolve with subsequent releases, The Black Parade stands as their crowning achievement; a time when the group's musical past helped inform their progressive and transcendent new direction, and one that propelled them into the broader public eye in the most artistically fulfilling and impactful way.
DANGER DAYS: THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS
By Jason Pettigrew
The history has been well documented: By 2011, everything in My Chemical Romance’s universe was seemingly in shambles. They had second-guessed themselves, spent a million bucks on a record that never came out, endured drummer vacancies and management problems before deciding that their machine simply didn’t work any more. Despite all that madness, the band’s last album brought home all the rhetoric they would frequently dish out to both journalists and fans. This was the album where they genuinely became fearless, firing up synthesizers to lay down exhilarating dance tracks (“Planetary (Go!)”); breaking the volume knobs off their amps for superior rock power (“Party Poison,” “Vampire Money”); delivering unashamed pop sensibilities (“Bulletproof Heart”); jumping into bed with nü-metal funk (“Destroya”) and creating a heart-stirring anthem (“The Kids From Yesterday”) that cauterized scar tissue on the hearts of everyone who were along for their wild ride, whether they were below legal drinking age or old enough to have a loved one sign a DNR form for them in a hospital ER. One metaphor the band members were fond of using was comparing their band to the idea of driving a battered car into the sunset until the wheels fall off. On Danger Days, they did just that, making good on everything they ever shouted about and walking away from the wreckage, maybe taking the cigarette lighter or a door handle keepsake with them—but leaving the rear-view mirror. The only thing MCR really lied to us about? That would be Danger Days narrator Dr. Death-Defying’s slogan, “The aftermath is secondary.” Because the new records from Frank Iero and Gerard Way are the things rock fans should dig their nails in to embrace like fucking soulmates.