It’s All Hallow’s Eve again, MCRmy! We (being the Rmy as a whole) have always seemed to be Halloween enthusiasts, and when you take a look at the band it’s not very hard to see why. The dark, eerie aesthetics and macabre themes of the holiday were also prevalent themes in the band’s music and shows. Even the Technicolor palette and glam sounds of Danger Days had ominous enemies of Korse and BLi/nd as well as the dystopian setting. It also goes without saying that Frank Iero’s October 31st birthday and commemorative knuckle tattoos cement “Ieroween” as a fan-favorite event. But there’s an element of Halloween that My Chemical Romance also shared with a different holiday. Death, and the subsequent afterlife, is omnipresent in the works of MCR, from lyrics and videos to merchandise and promotional material. The holiday in question has death at its foundation- but it’s not a gloomy affair, fixed on the gruesome technicalities of mortality, but rather a joyous celebration of the lives lived by those now deceased and the beautiful mystery of what is to come. It seems rather fitting that Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) arrives on November 1st, the day following Halloween. After all the chills and gore, an introspective holiday centered around the realities of death seems a welcome antithesis to the horror. MCR certainly seemed to embrace the traditions and ideals, as evidenced by the Day of the Dead-themed death masks sold with the limited edition of The Black Parade is Dead, for example.
Death is a theme that can be found everywhere around us; in art, music, newspapers, television, nature. Its permeating threat shows itself whether we want it to or not, and that kind of inescapable reality arguably creates the most compelling works of art. From the beginning, My Chemical Romance showed that they were not a band that shied away from such difficult subject matters. Their first album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love was presented with cover art of the silhouette of famed escape artist Harry Houdini, whose eventual death during one of his stunts adds a somber background to the already-grim image.
The songs themselves create a story involving both death and the undead, as the whole album has been said to tell the story of a couple in the vein of Bonnie and Clyde who have a run-in with murderous vampires and die in a hail of bullets. Bullets contains verses with unforgettable lyrics such as “We could be perfect one last night And die like star-crossed lovers when we fight… Oh, how wrong we were to think That immortality meant never dying” as heard in the anthemic Our Lady of Sorrows. One the whole, the tale is dark and tragic, but when the next album was released, it was revealed that their story was not over. The entire sophomoric album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, details the man’s quest to save his beloved’s soul from hell. To accomplish this, he must kill a thousand evil men to trade for her. After a lot of bloodshed, it can be inferred from the words of I Never Told You What I Do For A Living that he was, unfortunately, unsuccessful. “Well, never again And never again They gave us two shots to the back of the head And we’re all dead now” How fitting for Halloween, wouldn’t you say? Sure, it can be argued that vampires and other forms of the undead are not exactly examples of the concept of rebirth, but death and the idea of coming back from the dead formed much of MCR’s foundation from the very start. While Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge might not be an obvious pick for examples of the afterlife, no one can say that the subsequent album doesn’t fully address the topic. The Black Parade is an album we know and love as a concept set almost entirely in the world that comes after this one. While the contents of TBP are melancholy and at times even sad, there is a stubborn strain of hope laced throughout the album that surfaces loud and clear by the end, which is why I think it was a perfect record to pair with the Day of the Dead. Instead of lingering on the details of the demise of the characters, it goes on to illustrate a strange, ethereal place that embodies both the process of death and the plane beyond. Overall, there is a more hopeful tone and a much happier ending given TBP as opposed to Revenge, which is why I maintain that The Black Parade is to Revenge what Día de los Muertos is to Halloween. Rebirth is such an intriguing idea, one that takes the ever-present fear of death, rips out the conclusion and gives it a sequel. My Chemical Romance was made of artists who aren’t the type of people to read the lines handed to them, so I think turning the finite instance of death into one step on a chain of events was both risky in a mainly areligious industry and insanely creative in a subculture obsessed with death. My Chemical Romance also didn’t shy away from the idea of their own demise. From acting out their own deaths in music videos (Mikey in The Ghost of You) to creating alternate personas who end up deceased (The Black Parade and the Killjoys), MCR never professed to be a group that would live forever. And in a way its strangely fitting that we never got to see that fifth album, that instead we got music from the past that we had never heard before. There it is again… rebirth. An old album of good music under the wrong circumstances, dredged up from the grave to be their swan song, even if we didn’t know it at the time. And now, the guys of My Chemical Romance are being reborn in their own way, making their own name in music, starting families or growing them, forging new paths for themselves. It would be a terrible shame to let our love of MCR die with the end of the band, because even though that band is done, it is not gone. So in the spirit of Halloween and the soul of the Day of the Dead, remember the happiness and message of the band and find some joy in its transformation. Because MCR will never end, and Killjoys never die.