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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

My Chemical Romance - May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013 Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 03.25.2014

RIP Dave Brockie


My Chemical Romance is:
Gerard Way – vocals
Ray Toro – guitar
Mikey Way – bass
Frank Iero – rhythm guiar
Matt Pellesier – drums
Bob Bryar – drums

My Chemical RomanceMay Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013

Track listing:
1. Fake Your Death
2. Honey, This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For the Two of Us
3. Vampire Will Never Hurt You
4. Helena
5. You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison
6. I'm Not Okay (I Promise)
7. The Ghost of You
8. Welcome to the Black Parade
9. Cancer
10. Mama
11. Teenagers
12. Famous Last Words
13. Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
14. SING
15. Planetary (GO!)
16. The Kids From Yesterday
17. Skylines and Turnstiles (Demo)
18. Knives/Sorrow (Demo)
19. Cubicles (Demo)
Running time: 1:09:33

“Some people watch / Some people pray / But even lights can fade away...” sings Gerard Way on what has turned out to be My Chemical Romance's eulogy. “Fake Your Death” is the opening track and only new material on May Death Never Stop You, the band's greatest hits compilation following their split almost one year ago. From the dramatic opening piano chords, to the poignant, first-pumping lyricism to the hand-clap choruses and more, the song perfectly embodies everything that My Chemical Romance meant to a lot of young people. In 2014, it's easy to forget just how big the “emo” movement was around the mid-noughties, but these guys were the reluctant poster boys for a movement that sparked rage, debate, scandal and tabloid exaggeration from a number of people that never really understood what it was about. My Chemical Romance emerged as a credible rock band despite the genre being shunned by the snobbish majority and became a global act who sold out arenas and headlined festivals and they did in no small part thanks to a loyal army of fans (or an MCRmy, I believe the term was). And although Way may not have known it at the time, “Fake Your Death” was always going to be the band's swansong. It's not their best work, far from it, but it is an apt and fitting tribute to a band that owed as much to their fans as their fans did to them.

May Death Never Stop You chronicles the band from punkish beginnings, through rock opera superstardom to, well, punkish ends. Opening track aside, the record is in chronological order, opening with tracks from the band's debut album I Brought You My Bullets..., “Honey, This Mirror” and “Vampires” are decent tracks, showcasing the band as the unpolished, naïve act that they were back then. The songs will get your heart racing, but never in a threatening way. It was on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge that the band realised how to channel the angst and emotion they felt and make a blockbuster of a song with it. “Helena” was a mammoth rock hit written about Gerard Way's grandmother and along with its accompanying video, highlighted the band's flare for the dramatic. A frantic pace and a soaring vocal, Way often said that this track spoke volumes of the band's sound and he wasn't wrong, for many it's a crowning achievement. “You Know What They Do...” demonstrates a swagger that the band exuded on their breakthrough sophomore album and is a welcome inclusion considering it was never released as a single, to the best of my knowledge. Way's vocal is excellent here. “I'm Not Okay” was the single that catapulted the band to the forefront of the genre, and there is no denying it's catchiness. It's as anthemic as the band ever got and if it had turned out to be the pinnacle of the band's career, you would have called it a successful one. “The Ghost of You” was Way's best ballad, in my opinion, and showed that when it came to writing about heartache and the loss of a loved one, few could match Way at the time.

Unsurprisingly the most-featured album on this compilation is The Black Parade, a record that topped charts worldwide and took the band to stadium-status. “Welcome to the Black Parade” begins as a stunningly beautiful ballad before erupting into a rock anthem that few bands have managed to match in the 21st century. The first half of the song is infinitely better than the latter, but it's a powerful track nonetheless and one that proved My Chemical Romance could do “epic” as well as anybody. “Cancer” is another heart-wrenching ballad, featuring merely a piano and an agonised vocal from Gerard Way that builds sonically to a drum-backed climax that sees Way pour his heart out into the song. “Mama” is an interesting choice for the record, as it was neither a single nor a particularly popular track from The Black Parade, though it was a staple at live shows. The song plays an important part of the narrative that the album told, that of a dying cancer patient, and has a roof-raising chorus and a hair-raising breakdown mid-way through. “Teenagers” is a song that never really fit on The Black Parade, and a track the media misconstrued as propaganda. It is undoubtedly a song that would cause many a ruckus at gigs, but it was never the call to arms tabloids would have had you believe. At less than three minutes, it's another brilliant anthem from a band that was making a habit out of such a thing at that point in its career. “Famous Last Words” is a track that lived and died on Way's vocal ability, and he does a good job of contemplating some of the biggest riffs the band ever put to record.

2010's Danger Days saw the band drop the rock opera approach and the gothic overtones for something all the more fun. It was the sign of a band that had come out of their shell, stopped taking themselves so seriously and were making music for their fans – this is embodied in “Na Na Na,” a riff -heavy juggernaut of a track. “SING” is another powerhouse of a track that starts slowly with a more composed vocal and drums, before heavy piano chords leads the track into a chorus so infectious it justifies the name of their 2010 “World Contamination” Tour. “Planetary (GO!)” made heavy use of electronic elements but the drum work on this track makes it so undeniably catchy that you pretty much have to get up and dance. Vocally Way is a world leader here, you can't help but fall into his charms. Synths and keyboards remain prominent on “The Kids From Yesterday,” but it's more of a laid-back, melancholy effort that would end up being the band's final single before “Fake Your Death.” The album concludes with three demos taken from the band's “Attic demos,” which have found their way onto the net in year's past but serve as a nice addition to the record. The only thing is, as is obvious on “Skylines and Turnstiles,” is that the band sounded awful on their early recordings. It does make an interesting contrast to see how polished they became. “Knives/Sorrow” is a bit livelier, but Way's vocal still sounds incredibly raw. Ironically it would go onto become the band's biggest asset. “Cubicles” concludes the compilation, sounding like something you might here down the local pub at 2am on a Sunday morning. It's raw and energetic, but these final three tracks are only here for completists.

Sometimes the strength of a compilation album can be judged based on what's missing, and there's definitely a few omissions here. “I Don't Love You” was a piercing ballad from The Black Parade that should be included. “Thank You For the Venom” and “Cemetery Drive” are stand out tracks from Three Cheers (the former was also a single) that were popular with fans, and “The Only Hope For Me Is You” was a popular single from the band's final album. There are personal favourites like “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” and “House of Wolves” that could have made it, but such is the strength of the band's back catalogue, even at just four albums, that there was inevitable going to be some notable tracks left off this set. Regardless, what is here is a career-spanning nineteen tracks that highlighted just how good My Chemical Romance was at writing an anthem that could capture the imagination of a generation. While many, many of the band's contemporaries have fallen at the wayside while others have faded into obscurity, My Chemical Romance broke new ground and became one of the most important bands of the 21st century on the back of these songs.

My Chemical Romance - "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)"

The 411: At worse, My Chemical Romance was a band that had a knack for writing catchy pop-punk songs. At their very best, the band wrote songs that caught the attention of the millions of young people the world over who then managed to transcend all the labels that were forced upon them to become and credible and acclaimed rock act. At least, The Black Parade was one hell of an experiment in storytelling and narrative and in song-writing ability and to do on such a scale was incredibly impressive. The number of anthems here is undeniable, and even their most ardent detractors won't be able to resist a good foot-stomping and fist-pumping upon hearing the band's biggest hits. May Death Never Stop You is a suitable farewell to a band who's legacy is yet to be decided, but if the title of “Fake Your Death” is anything to go by, you may just get the impression that we haven't actually seen the last of them yet. Certainly there's a whole generation of young fans who hope that to true and on the strength of May Death Never Stop You, I for one would have no qualms about the MCRmy going to battle once more.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend


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