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Frank Iero and the Future Violents - Barriers (Album Review)

Wednesday, 05 June 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Mitchell Wojcik

Six years on from the demise of My Chemical Romance, Frank Iero is back with the freshly minted Future Violents to deliver an emo odyssey through pantomime self-loathing and adolescent anxiety.

Heightened melodrama and arena-sized fuzz guitars abound on an album that takes no prisoners and pulls no punches. If you like his other work, you will like this.

Iero’s writing here is some of his first since he and his former bandmates in the Patience were involved in a horrific bus crash in Sydney, Australia.

There has always been a sense of mortality in the music but on certain tracks the randomness of fate’s arrows feels as resonant as they ever have.

Fever Dream is one such song: raw, candid lyrics run over manic melodies, tense piano work and pounding doom-laden guitar. It’s a track that dances between grunge and emo with a surprising amount of precision.

Similarly, Young and Doomed feels more random than it is. At its heart it’s actually quite a straightforward technical rock track. Iero’s talent has always been for dancing close to the territory occupied by Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age, while taking a dizzying number of melodic left turns. When it works—as it does here—it is impressive.

While the album, which was recorded with Steve Albini, is not quite up there with his MCR work, it will certainly resonate with longtime fans, and Iero has probably succeeded in making a record that “scares the shit out of them”.One of the most telling tracks in terms of the overall quality is Ode to Destruction. It sounds a lot like early Weezer, but the composition is not up to that standard—melodies come and go with surprising disposability and there is a dearth of emotional impact, despite the hyperactive lyrics.

In certain ways, Iero’s lust for complexity and technical maximalism undermines his own songwriting. ‘Barriers’ exists in a midpoint between emotional neediness and vaunting intellectualism. In that regard, it might be exactly the album he intended to make.

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