Throwback Review: My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
Chances are if you're reading this you know about this album quite well already so lets just get right into it. Three Cheers begins with the heartfelt track "Helena", a tribute to lead singer Gerard and bassist Mikey Way's grandmother who had passed away before the release of this record. This was a surprising choice to start the album as it is a very somber song not often heard as a leading track. Next follows "Give 'Em Hell, Kid", which quickly picks up the pace with charmingly messy, rapidly strummed guitars and shouted vocals."To the End", like the vast majority of this album, tackles subjects of broken relationships and the sadness they bring when drawing near their end. It is made clear right from the onset of this record that Gerard Way was suffering from severe depression and that this was his way of approaching cathartics.
The album marches on with "You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison", despite the comical song title this is a deeply emotional track driven by painful screams and power chords as it continues the story of the main character of the record being sent to prison for his crimes. A fantastically powerful track the chilling open dives into an enraged chaotically screamed thrasher meant to express the character coming loose at the hinges. Next is the now famous lead single of the record, "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" which was easily one of the bands cleaner efforts at this time with a much tighter playing style than they typically featured. Here is were it starts to become apparent that My Chemical Romance posses a talent to appeal to a much wider audience that just the relatively small emo fanbase and looking back in retrospect it is easy to see they were ready to achieve mass success.
The album moves along very briskly at a quick pace leaving little time to dwell on the previous tracks. Despite some screamed vocals,"Ghost of You" is the softest song of the record largely meant to convey the downtrodden nature of it's protagonist. This song appropriately brings about the second half of the album expressing the heroes longing to be reunited with his lover. At this point in the record the band has clearly showcased their knack for writing catchy songs even with emotional subject matters. After a brief interlude the album takes a brief refrain from the story concept to address real life topics in “The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You” and “Thank You For The Venom”, the second of which features Gerard Way covering his demons and struggles with abusing cocaine and alcohol. This a nice break from the story to dig deeper into the personal life of Way and offer a look into the mind that created such a bold and interesting concept.
“Hang ‘Em High” and “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a F***ing Deathwish”, follow similar patterns of rapid and slightly sloppy riffs with very dark melodies, which come together nicely offering a pleasant dose of diversity to the album. Some of the heaviest tracks the band has ever penned in the second half of the record as they feature their highest rate of screamed vocals, a nice contrast to the otherwise solemn tone set by most tracks. “Cemetery Drive” and “I Never Told You What I Do for a Living”, bring a very dark and sadistic ending to the story of the record in which the anti-hero commits suicide as he can't go back to the way things once were with his lover, bringing about a very nihilistic closing fitting the emo genre and the morbid themes covered by My Chemical Romance.
In conclusion,this isn't a perfect album by any means. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge doesn't feature the greatest instrumentation or the most powerful vocals of all-time but it does posses something special that is hard to place a finger on. This album has the "it factor" in spades. Some of the songs can occasionally feel interchangeable but in all the flaws of this record actually add to it's charm. There is a strong dark energy that can be viscerally felt throughout this release. This is the point in time where My Chemical Romance focused in on their ability to write catchy, memorable hooks and relatable lyrics. Importantly the sadness and drama of the album doesn't feel as forced as many of the emo releases of this era were, the band was able to connect with so many due to a genuine feel of authenticity. When all is said and done this record will always continue to be a golden standard for the emo genre which is why it gets a 4 out of 5 stars from us.