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My Chemical Romance, RIP

by Evan Lucy

My Chemical Romance, RIP

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What the scene giveth, the scene taketh away. Just weeks after the members of pop-punk powerhouse Fall Out Boy announced they were reuniting, New Jersey rockers My Chemical Romance dropped a similarly shocking bombshell: They've broken up. The news came at an unlikely time (late last Friday evening) in the form of a vague blog post on the band's website, though frontman Gerard Way later penned a lengthy goodbye letter, a poignant reflection on his time as MCR ringleader for more than a decade.

When the group released its debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, in 2002, few could have predicted My Chem's meteoric journey from snotty punks with a penchant for horror-flick macabre to triumphant emo torchbearers. Way might have been speaking in character when he talked about being "the savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned" on 2006's "Welcome to the Black Parade," but he and his bandmates played that exact role to millions of worldwide fans during the group's time in the spotlight.

The quintet eventually broke big in 2004 with major-label debut Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, which spawned the hit singles "Helena" and "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)." The album's early buzz netted the band opening slots for Avenged Sevenfold and Story of the Year, but the success of those singles soon allowed MCR the opportunity to headline not only the 2005 Vans Warped Tour, but also their own nationwide treks. 2006's The Black Parade, a wildly ambitious concept album that chronicled a cancer patient's death and his experiences in the afterlife, followed, and was met with unprecedented critical and commercial acclaim. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, catapulting MCR into full-blown stardom as tracks like "Welcome to the Black Parade" and "Famous Last Words" found a home on modern rock radio.

It was around this time that the true scope of the band's aim became evident. Not just content to have their art exist as music, the group pushed boundaries, creating new personas for every album and crafting multimedia projects like graphic novels. This creativity not only set them apart from their peers, it caused the crop of minor-key coattail-riders to up their own games. Fans saw this musical method acting firsthand on tours for The Black Parade, wherein the band donned Sgt. Peppers-meets-film-noir costumes to bring the characters and concept to life onstage.

Never content with looking backward, the group again reinvented itself on 2010's Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Trading in the doom-and-gloom motif for a futuristic, DayGlo-specked dystopia, the album found MCR loosening their collective ties and writing more lively material: See "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" and "Planetary (GO!).

In the end, My Chemical Romance's break-up is a shame because of just how promising the future looked. Over the past few months, the group had been releasing Conventional Weapons, a five-part set of double singles comprised of scrapped songs from the Danger Days sessions. The songs might have been one-time throwaways, but they holds their own against anything in the band's back catalog. If it ends up being the group's last release ever, it's safe to say Gerard Way and co. went out with a bang, not a whimper.

While we await news of the band members' next moves, here we take a look back at My Chemical Romance's decorated and successful career with a playlist of greatest hits and some of their best deep cuts. So long and goodnight, indeed.

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