A few years ago, I decided that MCR was to the '00s what Mötley Crüe was to the '80s. After listening to The Black Parade, I think I sold them short.
There's nothing wrong with Mötley Crüe, mind you. Shout at the Devil is one of the few L.A. metal albums I still like, but their subsequent descent into overtly commercial pop metal bored me. MCR, however, made no such descent. With the help of producer Rob Cavallo, they added a healthy dose of German cabaret and Broadway showtunes to their self-loathing goth/emo persona. It's the same kind of reinvention that The Killers tried with Sam's Town, but MCR struck much closer to their target.
With lyrics that expand on the limitations of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and guitars that owe more than a nod to Queen's Brian May, "The End" is a strong opener that sets the tone for the entire album. The intensity of the first few tracks peaks on "Welcome to the Black Parade," which is arguably the best song of the band's career. There's a slump in the middle of the album, but it picks up with "Mama" and doesn't stop until the last notes of the cathartic closer, "Famous Last Words." As for weak tracks, "I Don't Love You" and "Cancer" both sound contrived, and "Teenagers" smells of a conniving attempt to score an us-versus-them anthem for disaffected... uh... teenagers.
Not everyone will like The Black Parade, but it's excellent for its genre. At times the lyrics are interesting, but the generic angst masks whatever concept is supposed to lurk within this 'concept album.' The band chose well when selecting Cavallo as producer, and he helps their experimental side shine without overshadowing their core sound.
Packaging: (Altered by EPFL?)
This cover appears to be different than the real cover, which is a shame because this is phenomenal. The artwork is how I imagine The Wall would've looked had it been designed by Tim Burton. It's one of the best rock packages I've seen in a long time.
Listen if you like: The Used, Hawthorne Heights, Mötley Crüe. If you're a fan of Queen or Pink Floyd, and you actually care about new music, give it a shot but don't hold it to unreasonably high standards.
If it were food, it'd be: A 13-course meal with one common ingredient. Kind of like the Emo Chef or something.