My Chemical Romance performing in 2011 at Red Rock AmphitheaterFLICKER / EMILY MATVIEW (

On an otherwise unassuming Thursday in early May, with little fanfare and no promotion, long-mourned cult sensation My Chemical Romance released their first single since the group broke up in 2013. This new output comes in conjunction with the beginning of the band’s global reunion tour and, as "Welcome to the Black Parade" re-enters the Billboard top 200, their explosive return to the music scene has been nothing short of a sensation.

“A sense of clarity and purpose shines through the song”

The new track, “The Foundations of Decay”, filters over a static noise, building quietly. A sober guitar accompanies the distorted singing of vocalist Gerard Way before the chorus swells into an explosively triumphant crescendo of noise, as Way’s fluting voice carries over the thundering drums. The song is both completely new and wonderfully familiar: like revisiting an old friend. Since the band’s last studio album, Danger Days, all the members, except bassist Mikey Way, have produced solo albums (multiple in the case of guitarist Frank Iero). While Way drew on Britpop influences for Hesitant Alien, Iero lent far more into his punk and indie-rock interests in his first album, Stomachaches. Guitarist Ray Toro’s 2016 alt-rock album Remember the Laughter is masterful, characterised by his soft vocals and wide-ranging musical ability: he plays the lion’s share of instruments on the record. An appreciation of the diversity of these efforts highlights the different influences each member brings to the band: from Toro’s subtle melodies to Iero’s explosive energy, all of which can be felt in their new song.

Visualiser for My Chemical Romance's "The Foundations of Decay"YouTube / My Chemical Romance (

“The Foundations of Decay” is an anthem of reunion and of healing. As with many of Way’s lyrics, it’s intensely personal and revisits the theme explored in the band’s very first track: “Skylines and Turnstiles”, where Way expresses the trauma of witnessing 9/11. They meditate on what kind of progress has been made since that moment, both on a personal and global level. There’s a sharp dissonance between the desolate state of world affairs and the mental stability that Way and the bandmates have achieved in the years since they split up. A sense of clarity and purpose shines through the song which lacks the escapism and fantastical theatrics that dominate the bulk of their discography. There’s a sense that music is no longer a form of life support or therapy that Way describes in the video diaries chronicling the band’s early days. It is not a song recounting a harrowing battle with trauma but an exploration of healing that anguish. By lying in the "foundations of decay", one can uncover the roots of the pain that must be healed in order to grow. When Way croons out "you must fix your heart", it is not stance but a stipulation – the heart must be fixed in order to live authentically.

“This is a group of people who have a deep bond with both each other and the crowd”

This celebration of healing is evident in the live shows the band have played so far, all of which have been jubilant expressions of love for everything that My Chemical Romance stands for. These shows have been some of the best in their already impressive career primarily because they are having so much fun. Not tied to an album, there’s room to experiment and change the set list each night. By mixing up their entire discography, lesser known B-sides like “Mastas of Ravenkroft” have been aired on stage alongside classics like “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”, showcasing their talent without poor mental health and bad coping mechanisms looming overhead.

My Chemical Romance's official music video for "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)"YouTube / My Chemical Romance (

The band have all struggled with various mental health problems and addiction over the years. That rawness is reflected in their art. A dominating factor in their staggering success has been the connectivity between the struggles of the band and the struggles of their listeners. When Way rejoices with a crowd in being alive, it’s more profound than just basking in the moment, it’s a celebration of overcoming mental anguish together.


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It’s extraordinary to see Way on stage, 45 and joyful, when at one point it was uncertain he would live past 25. The crowds waving at Mikey’s children and Toro kissing Way during one of the Milton Keynes sets crystallises the joyous affection which ripples through their shows. This is a group of people who have a deep bond with both each other and the crowd who exultantly chant their lyrics. In one of his various on-stage speeches, Way explains how he used to work the crowds at gigs before being able to release that self-consciousness, proudly exclaiming: “and now I just feel connected to f-ing every one of you.” The audience roars exuberantly in response. This joy and authenticity seems to be at the centre of My Chemical Romance’s journey moving forward; the band seem so delightfully comfortable in themselves after battling extreme personal hardships and mental demons for so long. It’s going to be nothing but exhilarating to see where they go next.