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2016 has proven to be a life-changing year for Frank Iero and his band. Firstly, they wrapped up their sophomore album Parachutes and toured the world relentlessly in the earlier months. Then, Frank exercised his frontman rights and changed the band name from the Cellabration to the Patience. And finally, just two weeks ago, the band survived a horrific bus crash while on tour in Sydney, forcing them to cancel their upcoming tours for the remainder of the year.
In the sense that a parachute is a life-saving device, the former My Chemical Romance guitarist had previously confessed that each song on the new album can be traced to a particular moment in his life that has acted as a parachute for him. Little did he know that he’d need to pull on some of those parachutes again following his trip to Sydney.
A follow up from their debut album stomachaches (2014), this notion of parachutes largely came from Frank’s work with producer Ross Robinson (Korn, At the Drive-In and Slipknot). What sounded like a gruelling experience, Frank described the writing process as “mental surgery”. Ross had Frank trace back every emotional milestone in his life, whether happy or heartbreaking and discuss how it has influenced him. These would eventually become Frank’s parachutes, provoking the album to tap into something more vulnerable than the previous album. This raw emotion is impossible to ignore from the second the record kicks off.
The album opens with World Destroyer and is propelled by furiously fast guitar, high-tempo drum beats and Frank’s signature vocals. Vein is another punk rock number that shakes with aggressive guitar, thrashing percussion and drawn out wails of “I feel ashamed of what I’ve been!”. I’m A Mess, the first single from the album, is a self-deprecating anthem of self-realisation with a chorus that’s catchy-as-hell. “Maybe that’s just how I am…Maybe I’m a mess and I ain’t gonna change?” yells Frank.
The album mellows out for a few minutes with a strong bass line and cooing vocals on They Wanted Darkness. But as Frank’s vocals fluctuate between angsty yells and raspy screams, the pop-punk I’ll Let You Down and Remedy both ramp it up again. Meanwhile, the Johnny-Cash inspired Miss Me sees Frank flirt with a little bit of country and western. With the twang of an acoustic guitar and a melody that’s reminiscent of She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, it’s an unexpected gem in the mix.
Oceans, which Frank released last week as a thank you for the fans’ support following the crash, is about learning to accept love even when you’re unsure if you deserve it and letting yourself drown in that feeling. The final song on the album, and the most difficult for Frank to write and record, is September 6th. Dedicated to Frank’s late grandfather, who is his namesake and one of his parachutes, the track is a vulnerable lament of heartbreak and loss that perfectly draws the curtain on the album.
Exploring new genres and sounds, revealing parts of himself that he’d barely discussed, let alone shared through song, and now using it to overcome one of the most difficult times in his life, Parachutes is evidence of Frank finding his feet and embracing his role as the front man.