Various Artists - Rock Sound Presents: The Black Parade

The Black Parade defined not only an era, but a generation. It was part of everyone's soundtrack in the mid-2000s, whether it was the heartwrenching piano chords of 'Cancer' or the iconic piano intro of 'Welcome To The Black Parade'. It was revolutionary, powerful, and generally one hell of an album.

Its been ten years since it was released. With its tenth anniversary just a month away, The Black Parade memorabilia is coming through. Next week, My Chemical Romance will be releasing a double LP: The Black Parade / Living With Ghosts, featuring the album on one side and demos from the era on another. This week comes in the form of a dedication album. Rock Sound has brought together a number of big artists to cover songs from The Black Parade. It's a cool project, but not everything is as good as it may seem...

1) One OK Rock - The End.: Starting off fresh is perhaps one of Japan's most well established rock bands, One OK Rock with the opening track, 'The End.' It's a pretty great cover as an opener, but also a bit misleading. The song has great little subtle differences hidden in between the more notable ones. The song's performance adds electronic elements in between the cleaner moments, the contrast between the soft and heavy moments becoming that much greater. What's misleading is how original and good the cover is: having it at the start makes you think some new interpretations of these classic songs are coming, not completely changing them yet adding something new... (92 / 100)

2) Escape The Fate - Dead!: ...sadly, that isn't the case, as seen in Escape The Fate's cover of 'Dead!' It's pretty much an except copy of the original, without much change to it. It has a great guitar solo, but that's as much credit as you can give it. The vocals don't quite give it the same punch, either. It feels like a standard cover band cover, and nothing else. (74 / 100)

3) Creeper - This Is How I Disappear: On the subject of vocals, Creeper's cover of 'This Is How I Disappear' has perhaps the least-fitting vocals on this entire record. It goes in with the nature of Creeper - the vocals are trying to sound creepy and condescending, and it simply doesn't work with the song. The instrumental is incredibly weak, as well. The vocals are half of the mix, and the instrumental is barely any louder than them, making it have little impact. (51 / 100)

4) State Champs - The Sharpest Lives: In the same scenario as Escape The Fate, this song stays even closer to the original than 'Dead!' did. The little guitar punches in the verses aren't as spidery as they were in the original, being fatter and bassier, an subtle but odd difference. the guitar solo is great, and they nailed the bassline underneath it. (70 / 100)

5) Crown The Empire - Welcome To The Black Parade: It's impossible to create a cover that truly does this song justice, but Crown The Empire didn't even try. It's almost painful to listen to this cover. It's completely uninspired, drained of emotion, and takes away all of the original charm of the song. They couldn't so much as try and take out the hammers of the piano hitting the strings as they play the intro. It's worse than a cover band. It really makes you appreciates the small things in the original song that may seem insignificant, but really made the track what it was. They didn't even do the guitar leads in the intro! It's nothing more than a badly rehearsed cover by a cover band you'd see in a bar setting. (35 / 100)

6) Moose Blood - I Don't Love You: Moose Blood amassed a pop punk following leading up to their release of their debut LP Blush - read our review of it here - and brought pop punk back in a new yet familiar light. 'I Don't Love You' meets all the criteria to be a banging pop punk song, and Moose Blood took it and made it just that. With Eddy Brewton's reckless abandon in his vocals, the vocals worry more about emotion than hitting the notes, giving the song a fresh new revival in sweet and warm colors. (88 / 100)

7) Palisades - House Of Wolves: Another song that's received a rebirth in a brand new light. Palisades brings a great blend of intensity and electronica, the verses quite and choruses explosive. The original had an off-kilter, funky composure to it, while Palisades brought a groovier rendition on this cover album. It sounds very modern - if The Black Parade was released in 2016, this is definitely what 'House Of Wolves' would've sounded like. The massive chants of "S-I-N-I-S-I-N" bring a huge conclusion to the song. It's one of the most original covers on the record, without a doubt. (94 / 100)

8) Twenty One Pilots - Cancer: There wasn't a better band to cover this song. No one else but Josh Dun could capture the somber and accepting tone that Gerard Way sang the song in better. The song's a melancholy build of piano and a light drum electronic beat, while Dun's vocals dance a tragic dance in a symphony of vocoders and reverberating words through a cavernous atmosphere. Some would argue that the cover abandons the original's premise and mood with the electronic elements, but its subtlety makes it just as powerful in a different light. It captures all of the beautiful of the original while still remaining catchy, especially in the amazing part after the chorus where samples of Dun singing "I will not kiss you, lips are chapped and faded, call my..." as they echo and float away. The ending reprises it, and the final piano chord resonates and fades away, as if its acceptance and resignation of the narrator. It's truly beautiful. (97 / 100)

9) Ghost Town - Mama: 'Mama' was always a weird song. Ghost Town made their cover of the song weird, but a bit too weird. It's a cool cover, but it tries too hard to create the mood of the original by adding a bunch of different elements. The creepy keyboard part in the verses is cool, albeit overused. It's encouraged for a band to not stick too close to the original, yet Ghost Town sounds like they had to deliberately try to make something like they did. It explodes just like the original does at the end and has the same vibe, for what its worth. It's a good cover, just... a bit too much. (75 / 100)

10) New Years Day - Sleep: Female vocals! It's great to hear someone of the opposite sex tackling the classics on the album, especially when she brings a badass rendition of 'Sleep'. New Years Day's Ashley Costello sings and screams powerful atop soaring and heavy choruses, truly bringing out the best of alternative metal, resulting in a massive, melodic, and epic cover. The guitar solo combined with her screams are just excellent as they kick into one last explosion to end the track. An awesome cover, no doubt. (96 / 100)

11) Against The Current - Teenagers: Against The Current brings in more female vocals into the mix, their groovy and fun alternative rock vibes to record. Their debut album In Our Bones proved that they have the anthemic pop rock vibe nailed (read our review of it here). The intro starts dramatically before Chrissy Costanza's vocals kick in in time with the bass synth. The choruses are just as anthemic as the original's, big drums and sweet guitars not powering the song but acting as support for Costanza's warm vocals. The guitar solo is nailed, leading into a powerful final chorus complete with big gang vocals to emulate the rebellious composure of the song and a bright guitar lead. No one could've fit better into this song than her. (94 / 100)

12) Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! - Sleep: This cover of 'Sleep' just sounds like an overproduced version of the original. There's really nothing special about it that MCR's version doesn't do better. Just a standard cover. It's good, but doesn't provide anything new. (74 / 100)

13) Asking Alexandria - Famous Last Words: It would just so happen that my two favorite songs on the original album happen to be the worst on this cover album. Perhaps it just goes to show how My Chemical Romance absolutely nailed what they were working to accomplish. If you read our review of Asking Alexandria's album The Black, you'd know that I was already unimpressed in them. If you haven't read it yet - click here to check it out. They completely tossed out the energy of the original song, making it feel like you're listening to a weak rendition by a cover band. Where's the punch of the final chorus? Why is it shortened? Why is the instrumental so undynamic? It's overproduced, uninspired, and just plain weak as a cover to end the album. It's a sad listen. (38 / 100)

Rock Sound's compilation is hit or miss, really, though the sentiment is sweet. My Chemical Romance truly created something amazing, and to see all these different bands come together to say thank you to the music and bring this dedication to them. It's humbling, even as a fan, to see these artists perform these songs that are close to so many people's hearts. You can't recreate what The Black Parade made, but you can always pay respect to it.

Favorite Tracks: Cancer, Sleep, Teenagers, House Of Wolves

Least Favorite Tracks: Welcome To The Black Parade, Famous Last Words

Rating: 73 / 100

2nd Quarter Of 2016 in Music - Wrap Up

2016 is still rolling by, and the albums are getting more diverse. Here's what I've listened to over the last three months (April - June) and links to the albums I've reviewed.

5-Star Albums (8.5 - 10)

4-Star Albums (6.5 - 8)

3-Star Albums (4.5 - 6)

2-Star Albums (2.5 - 4)

  • None!

1-Star Albums (0 - 2)


Top Albums Of 2016 (so far)

  1. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
  2. AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
  3. Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor
  4. Deftones - Gore
  5. Dream Theater - The Astonishing
  6. Foxes - All I Need
  7. Daughter - Not To Disappear
  8. Gojira - Magma
  9. Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
  10. Architects All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

Top Songs Of 2016 (so far)

  1. AURORA - 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (Acoustic)'
  2. Radiohead - 'True Love Waits'
  3. Deftones - 'Hearts/Wires'
  4. Radiohead - 'Daydreaming' *
  5. Panic! At The Disco - 'Emperor's New Clothes'
  6. Foxes - 'Better Love'
  7. Lacey Sturm - 'Rot'
  8. AURORA - 'Through The Eyes Of A Child'
  9. Deftones - 'Phantom Bride'
  10. Thrice - 'Black Honey'

Once again, thanks for reading our reviews and following us! :) There's a lot more to come. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page so you don't miss anything!

Against The Current - In Our Bones

Against The Current’s long awaited debut record In Our Bones is finally here! The band’s five-year growth has finally led up to their first record from Fueled By Ramen, and brings up the electronic influences to create a slightly poppier sound than previous releases while still maintaining the core pop-rock vibe.

The first thing to note about the record is the appeal. It’s definitely an Against The Current release, it has the core elements of the band written all over it, but, perhaps by the hands of Fueled By Ramen, has a lighter approach to it. No giant guitar bridges are present and the electronics and Chrissy Constanza (up there for cutest frontwoman out there) seem to take a more important place on the record. The music seems to be more of a backing to Chrissy instead of all of them being equally important, as past efforts seemed to do. The electronic influence is definitely something much more prevalent in the album, most evident in songs like ‘Forget Me Now’ with its synth intro.

While electronics are now a major component of the tracks, there are a lot of raw moments on it. Title track ‘In Our Bones’ is an acoustic track backed by strings, piano, and guitar, lacking any overarching presence of electronica. That being said, the song is pretty cheesy, while still being sweet. Stronger songs like ‘Wasteland’ blend the elements of both ends of the spectrum together into a massive track, filled with atmosphere and giant guitar punches. The vocals also remind me of Bea Miller, for some reason. Intro track ‘Running With The Wild Things’ also has a similar punchiness that perfectly hypes up the record. Some songs take a more safe path, ‘Runaway’ working off the classic formula of U2 with powerchords in the verses and sweet riffs splashed in delay. 

Chrissy crushes it with her stellar vocals on this record. Her vocals demand attention with their confident belting and fullness. Her melodies are fantastic, ‘Blood Like Gasoline’ being a prime example of a great melody that compliments the instrumental wonderfully. ‘Chasing Ghosts’ highlights the strength of her voice, really showing off her great range. The verses take it slow and mellow, while the choruses explode with soaring notes. 

As much praise as it deserves, this album paves the way for the band’s follow up to it. There’s a lot of room for improvement. One problem with it is that it almost feels like the album is having an identity crisis, as if it can’t tell whether it wants to be a pop rock anthemic record or one fit more to a comfortable radio-friendly sound. It doesn’t take many risks, which is, perhaps, to be expected of a debut, but after being in the game for half a decade, the band should be ready to try some different tactics. Some songs on the record just find themselves contradicting themselves in ways and defeating their purpose. ‘Roses’ has a sad but sweet meaning to it, but that meaning is lost with how happy the instrumental is. It’s not even that there’s a strong optimism to the subject, it’s just a misplaced mood of the instrumental to the lyrics. ‘Demons’ is a pretty standard song, but as a record closer, lacks a sense of finality that would end the album on a high note. It feels like another song you’d find in the middle of the record and skip on a casual listen. 

Debut records always make or break a band. Luckily, In Our Bones is a pretty solid starter for Against The Current’s career. It struggles within itself to find its own purpose as well as compromising some of its songs’ own meanings, but part of evolving is learning from mistakes. The band’s follow up will show whether or not they harbor these faults or correct them. There’s a good amount of time before that LP comes around, and luckily, this record has plenty of jams to keep that time gap filled.

Favorite Tracks: Wasteland, Blood Like Gasoline, Running With The Wild Things

Least Favorite Track: In Our Bones

Rating: 7/10