We're kicking off Rock Week at MTV News with a look at My Chemical Romance's yet-untitled new effort, which sees them ditching the preening and pancake makeup in favor of some seriously strutting riffs and more than a few nods to heavy metal's studded past.
Here's what we know about the album, the follow-up to MCR's ambitious 2006 rock opera The Black Parade: It will most certainly not be The Black Parade II.
More specifically, there will be no high-concept videos, no Queen-biting guitar heroics, no cameos by Liza Minnelli. Gone are the makeup and the uniforms and much of the pretense. Instead, we get MCR: stripped. For nearly a year now, they've been talking up the back-to-basics approach they've taken for album four, promising, "It's not going to be hiding behind a wall of fiction or uniforms and makeup anymore ... there's a purity to it," and calling it their "love letter to rock and roll."
Working with producer Brendan O'Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Mastodon), they've made what — by most early accounts — seems to be a fast-and-loose throwback. It's an album packed with songs that, as frontman Gerard Way told Spin magazine last month, recall "that era when heavy metal was yet to become hair rock."
That is to say that the new MCR sound an awful lot like the old Judas Priest, or the old Def Leppard, or even the old (only) MC5. There's a strut to the songs — a cocksure, fist-pumping, ready-to-brawl swagger, as evidenced by this live version of "Death Before Disco," which they unveiled last year at Hollywood's Roxy Theatre. And, according to Spin, other new tracks — like "Trans Am" and "Black Dragon Fighting Society" — are much in that same vein.
But, as this is still a My Chem album, there are some overarching themes at play too (you couldn't expect them just to quit cold-turkey, could you?). As Way told Spin, "The album has these feelings of being like a 15-year-old kid at the Jersey Shore, trying to win a Mötley Crüe mirror or an Iron Maiden hat. ... [There are] many themes: that a band and an audience can be immortal through rock 'n roll, even if just for one night. The power of believing in something. Being a survivor. ... Leaving home in order to come back. ... If Black Parade was about the sweeping gesture, this is about the bold statement.
"The magic of a guitar played loudly. The thrill of the open road. The belief that we can all be something better, even if just for one night: The new MCR sound an awful lot like roughly 85 percent of the Boss' best stuff.
But for all that's been written about the new My Chem record, there are a few details still missing: like, for example, what it's going to be called or when it will be in stores (we hear May). Regardless, the wait is nearly over. There's a new MCR album on the horizon, and we're dying to hear what this band can do when they ditch the gimmicks and just play lean, mean, no bullsh-- rock about New Jersey. Snooki, you've been warned.
It's Rock Week at MTV News, and to celebrate, we're taking a look at some of the most-anticipated new albums of 2010. Stay tuned all week for more! This report is from MTV News.