Reviewing 2012: Conventional Weapons

An overview of My Chemical Romance's (a New Jersey based band) series of 5 installments (consisting of 2 songs each) released from sessions dating back to 2009, as well as a look at criticism surrounding the album and fan's views on their progressively changing sound.

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1. My Chemical Romance: Conventional Weapons

My Chemical Romance is a New Jersey based band, formed in 2001, a direct result of the collapse of the Twin Towers. They have begun to release a series of 5 installments, consisting of 2 songs per release, from sessions dating back from 2009. The release has caused mass excitement and a feeling of nostalgia for many fans.

After the band claimed to be unsatisfied with the album ‘Conventional Weapons’, they decided to scrap it, feeling that they had set themselves too many rules to follow, in an attempt to ensure that the record was the best it could be. Their intention was to create an album which would precede the highly successful ‘The Black Parade’. After shelving ‘Conventional Weapons’ the band set themselves free of  rules and recorded the much anticipated follow up, ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’.

But despite not releasing the songs, My Chemical Romance still believed the songs to be an important part of the band’s history and decided to release them on the basis that while the songs had been created at the wrong time, the album was something they wished to share with fans. And what a reaction it has received, with the record bringing together parts of material from their first two albums ‘You brought me your bullets, I brought you my love’ and ‘Three cheers for sweet revenge’ as well as some songs containing the fresher energy of ‘Danger Days’, a record which divided the fan base due to its diversity from the band’s previous material.

A band loved for their deeply emotional lyrics, fresh punk sounds and guitar based rock (inspired by bands such as The Smiths) supplied by members Frank Iero, Ray Toro and Mikey Way: they reached out to a generation of people, many of whom related the lyrics to their own lives and donned the phrase ‘This band saved my life’. Through their messages of hope and inspiration, the band have affected lives by reaching out to ‘outcasts’ and addressing issues of self-harming and suicide. During concerts the band sometimes talks about these issues and offer help and advice, where they can, to their now considerably sized fan base.

Because many fans are reliant on the band for help and support through hard periods of their lives, the music that My Chemical Romance write will always be scrutinised for its content; by fans who believe that their music should have a certain sound, to media such as the Daily Mail, who during the Black Parade era labelled the band an ‘emo suicide cult’. ‘Conventional Weapons’ has not been any different in that, it has received a mixed response from the fan base, from a sense of nostalgia to a feeling that the band has become commercialised, in an attempt to be more radio-friendly.

The first two songs released on October 30th were ‘Boy Division’ and ‘Tomorrow’s Money’, songs which seemed to show more clearly the missing stepping stone between ‘The Black Parade’ and ‘Danger Days’. ‘Boy Division’ has a fast, furious feel to it and with lyrics such as ‘save me from my self-destruction’, reflects the band’s emotional side, which has attracted many people to their music. ‘Tomorrow’s Money’ is a song which also displays elements of their previous albums and includes the use of distorted vocals by lead singer Gerard Way, a technique that some fans have dubbed as distracting from the real message in the lyrics.

The second installment consists of ‘Ambulance’ and ‘Gun’ released on November 23rd. When compared to the two songs released previously, the songs definitely show the transition to ‘Danger Days’ as while the songs still have that lively energy which has been labelled an MCR trademark, they are happy songs which reflect the good of life; a side to the band which is not loved by all fans. Their newest album was slated by some for being too happy-go-lucky and too different in comparison to their older music, while others say that the music reflected the band’s emotions at the time of recording and should be respected. ‘Ambulance’ begins with harmonized vocals and it is quite refreshing to hear the vocals of Frank and Ray on this song though the use of a repeated phrase ‘You don’t know a thing about this life’ could be an example of the commercial route that some fans are worried the band is taking. ‘Gun’ again uses the word ‘gun’ throughout the song. The lyrics could be said to not display the band’s usual emotional depth; the line ‘you’re never going to have a son’ is one that shows lack of meaning and is also used to fit the rhyming scheme i.e. ‘gun’, something that the band have never seemingly been concerned with.

The third and currently most recent release has once again caused controversy between fans; ‘The world is ugly’ and ‘The light behind your eyes’. Both songs contain heart felt lyrics and also have, what could be described as, a much softer sound (particularly on ‘the light behind your eyes'). These are songs which the band has played live before and so when compared to the live versions, some fans believe that the studio versions lack depth; a sign that the band have commercialised to suit a more popular audience. Personally this most recent installment is my favourite and the level of depth and beauty I found within the lyrics; spoke to me more than any other songs released by the band.

Though some elements of the releases have been criticised, as a fan of the band and a lover of punk music, it should be noted that the band were aware of the scrutiny they would receive on releasing the album (with suggestions that the only reason was for record sales) but released the songs because they wanted to share their love for their music with fans; which I believe shows the connection and love that unite both band and fans alike to My Chemical Romance’s music.

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