LOUDER REVIEWS: 'Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place' - Frank Iero and the Future Violents
Last year was gearing up to be a monumental year for Frank Iero. After years of waiting and hoping, he had reunited with his fellow emo legends in My Chemical Romance, and they had tours of the UK and the USA in store.
However, it was not to be.
Coronavirus put paid to all those carefully-laid touring plans, and the reunited My Chem have still only played the one show in the 15 months since their cataclysmic reunion.
But never fear, fellow emos. If the wait to hear anthems such as 'Helena' and 'I'm Not Okay' belted out across a sold-out stadium is getting you down, then why not delve into Frank's latest release with his other project, Frank Iero and the Future Violents?
'Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place' may only be four tracks long, but what a four tracks they are! Severed by the same binary opposition present in the title, the first two tracks scream and scythe with a blood-sucking vengeance. By comparison, the latter two tracks are infinity softer and more delicate,
Opener 'Violence' is as true to it's word as any song of such a definitive title should be. The low-slung, crooning guitars break into a melody dripping in harmonic ferocity, which bubbles and froths like boiling water on the verge of spilling over the rim of the pan. Iero's idiosyncratic, plaintive voice wails out, backed by a haunting chorus of whispered female vocals. This track definitely boasts all the deeply-rooted, gut-wrenching pain that so endeared the emo movement as a whole to a generation of fans- it feels as though these lyrics, in particular the likes of "Your violence feels like kisses to me, your silence makes it harder to breathe, your distance feels like I’m not enough… I need your touch.”, are pulled almost with force from deep within the pit of his stomach. It doesn't rip and roar with unchained passion, but the deeply pained emotions that pour forth in waves is enough to make it nerve-shreddingly poignant.
Recent single 'Sewer Wolf' follows suit: a plodding melancholy tune that drips with all the grandiose melodrama any eyeliner-donned teenager could ask for! The stonking beats of the guitar line fall like boulders amongst the gravelly, spitting vocals, which rise to a fever-pitch before Iero gets them quickly reigned back under control for the following verse. That being said, with one of the heaviest, most post-hardcore-influenced choruses to come from any of his projects for a long time, this track wouldn't feel out of place on a stage at Bloodstock! This is as unhinged and expressive as we have seen from the Violents since the days of 2014's 'Stomachaches'.
You have to have some guts to take one of the most iconic alternative rock songs of all time and make it an airy, ethereal cover that drifts with an almost tangible softness. Yet that is exactly what Iero, along with Kayleigh Goldsworthy, have done with the third in this quadrant of tracks, a cover of REM's seminal hit 'Losing My Religion'. Following the horrific bus crash in Australia in 2016, which both Iero and his bandmate and brother-in-law Evan Nestor barely survived, the track kept making unexpected appearances in their lives throughout their recovery. Following a meeting-of-the-minds with Goldsworthy on the Violents' first US tour following the accident, Iero rembers that: "on the last night of tour in San Francisco we found an empty room/hallway/stairwell type place and made an iPhone voice memo demo of the song. It felt like magic and that was the moment I was convinced this couldn’t be the only thing we did together.”
Kicking off the softer, more reflective portion of the EP, the track, recorded at maid Vale studios, boasts male and female harmonies which drift in and around each other, accompanied only by an isolated mandolin and rhythmic drum that thuds softly in the background. The lack of dynamic changes across the track make it an absorbing listen which seeps it's way into your ears rather than hitting you at full force with the emotional vigour of the original - yet while it may not make you contemplate your existence on this mortal plain, it is the perfect track to have playing in the background of a relaxing winter evening.
Continuing this contemplative journey, closing track 'Record Ender' hums into life with an otherworldly ambience, before blooming into a melancholy chorus of mid-tempo percussion and drifting guitar lines. Quieter, and with a more reflective atmosphere blended with a bittersweet grandeur, again, it is a song which more than lives up to it's name, with a chorus so cavernous it fills any room it is played into, without ever feeling overstated or impenetrable: it would indeed be a perfect soundtrack to the fist-pumping closing moments of a picture-perfect movie.
Here's hoping that this isn't the ending, however- from the sounds of things, on all fronts, 2021 is going to be a brilliant new beginning for Frank Iero.
'Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place' is due for release on the 15th of January via UNFD - pre-order the EP here:
Check out the video for the lead single from the EP, 'Sewer Wolf', below:
My Chemical Romance have rescheduled their postponed UK dates to summer 2021- the full dates can be found below. The shows are currently officially sold out!