My Chemical Romance "May Death Never Stop You"

I'm going to be honest here: I wasn't thrilled with the concept of a My Chemical Romance greatest hits album. To me, it's always seemed like a cop out or a way to make a quick buck (especially if they're released when the band is still in full swing *coughGreenDaycough*) and I even saw Gerard Way mention on Twitter that it was the label's idea, not the band's. In a way that made it easier to swallow- at least they weren't just milking the fans- but, on the other hand, it seemed a sad, impersonal farewell that was controlled by a heartless, faceless corporation. However, being the obsessive fan I am, I knew I'd have to buy it regardless.

When the details for May Death Never Stop You were released, I was hugely relieved. It was clear to see that the band were very much involved in its conception- from the name, to the art direction, to the unreleased material, it was presented as a eulogy and gave a real sense of closure. Of course, I pre-ordered it within the first hour of possibility, although it took me about 45 minutes to actually get that far. Emo kids broke the internet.

After weeks of waiting, it finally arrived under the name "Becky Emo". That's what happens when I ask Rich to order items for me! It took me quite a while to unwrap it. This will sound horrendously tragic but I found it so difficult to process that this is the last MCR CD I'll ever open. When I did unwrap it, however, it was beautiful! Naturally, I had ordered the full package with the funeral brassard and t shirt, and the whole process was just overwhelming.


To me, the name is perfect. It concisely sums up everything My Chemical Romance were ever about: Keep going. They may be gone, but they're still there. It's also a poignant, cyclical throwback to an Our Lady of Sorrows lyric from their first album: "Oh how wrong we were to think that immortality meant never dying".

Gerard Way acted as art director, so the design is perfect. It gives a real sense of closure but, at the same time, it's heartbreakingly poignant. The focal piece is a stone monument of Gerard himself a la Black Parade era. Although I am not a fan of this era, it was undoubtedly the turning point in their career- The album that turned them from popular emo idols to mainstream cult leaders- and for that it seems perfectly appropriate. The monument, a headstone within a graveyard, is covered in graffiti, including a reference to their Black Parade album track The End, and the numerals MMXIII: 2013, the year they disbanded. This theme of death is carried through with the dates 2001-2013 at the bottom of the cover.

Inside the case, the CD has the same monument printed on it and the DVD is adorned with the same image, but this time drawn by Gerard in the style recognisable from the Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge artwork. The similarity is underlined with I'm Not Okay scrawled across the stone torso.

As a teenager, the booklet inlays were very important to me. I would pull them out time and time again to read the lyrics, read the acknowledgements and read too much into them. In fact, my copy of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is torn and frayed, with clay fingerprints all over it from listening to the CD on repeat in my A level art classes. This booklet took my breath away. It features a picture of ornate coffins on every other page (reminiscent of the Helena video), with the band member's name and the dates they were in the band. What really got me was that they also included Matt Pellisier and Bob Bryar, the drummers that didn't stay the course. None of their past was excluded or forgotten about.

Each song is listed with a quote from band members giving some background on the music. It's lovely to discover these new facts and unveil a new element to the songs I know so well: Vampires May Never Hurt You was the first song they recorded, Mama features all the band members' mothers as guest vocals and Famous Last Words was written for Mikey. I think my favourite part of the booklet is Frank's confession that I'm Not Okay is his favourite song to play live because it "has always felt like home...as if those 3 minutes and 9 seconds were where we belonged". Having seen MCR 16 times, I can safely say that hearing the first chords of that track have always given me that feeling. It's not my favourite song of theirs (in fact, it wouldn't rank in my top 5) but it's always been the one I'm most excited by when it's played live.

At first, I was really disappointed to find there were no acknowledgements. I was at least expecting a little "thank you to blah blah blah... and also the fans for making all of this possible" or, more likely, a full blown statement. There's nothing. On turning the final page, however, it's revealed that the final image is a close-up of the monument daubed with the words Thank you for the venom (another title). Although I would have preferred something a little less vague, this seemed poignant to me. It adds to that cyclical feel: The first show they played, Gerard wore a top inked with those words, and the final image on the booklet of their first album featured the words Merci pour le venin in more of less the same position. Perhaps this is a way of looking back over what they've done and making it a lot more clear: Spelling out, in plain English as it were, what they've been trying to tell us all along. 

The whole design is just one of breathtaking beauty in that weird, gloomy sense of beauty I've always identified with My Chemical Romance. It got me thinking, unlocking that over-analytical part of my mind that I haven't used since I was writing essays for my English literature A level, at the height of my love for MCR. (Can you tell?) There are many layers to the design, it encompasses everything that has happened in their past, and I think I'll be finding little, previously overlooked details for a long time to come. 


I first heard the unreleased track Fake your Death on Radio 1 and I wasn't exactly blown away. It felt anti-climactic. Then I listened to the CD with the lyrics in front of me. It's heartbreaking. Gerard always said he wanted to change the world. This song reveals that he's given up: "I admit defeat, I walk away, and leave this place the same today". Then there are the lyrics that imply his feelings towards his career: He's making money from the misery of others who turn to him for comfort. "You want the heart, or to be saved, but even good guys still get paid"... "Come on and feel that shame... Just look at all that pain". It almost seems as though he's feels guilty for making a career out of the others' woes and is ashamed that his ideals never panned out. This song is the closest thing we have to an explanation as to why the band had to end.

As for the song selection: I think it's been selected very well. There are some glaring omissions- no Headfirst for Halos or Thank You for the Venom- but even those great songs that were never released as singles are included- You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison and Mama are two examples that I'm very glad were used. The inclusion of the infamous attic demos is a nice touch although, again, I was expecting something to come at the end- A little acknowledgement or some sort of detail that would add some closure. 


It's not something I'd ever thought of, but in the 10 years since I discovered this band, I've never once watched all their videos back-to-back. There was just no need to. So this DVD, which compiles unused footage from each video shoot in chronological order, was quite eye-opening. Watching the footage from I'm Not Okay was a little upsetting in a way. It was so perfect- They were raw, full of energy, with no gimmicks. It seemed to me that they were the truest to themselves during that shoot. During the Black Parade era, it was clear to see the downfall. Even though they were at their peak, they'd lost that honesty. It was veiled with the theatrics. For the first time, I thought that maybe they should have ended it there. 


Since I bought the full package, my CD also came with a funeral brassard and t shirt. Both of these things are hugely poignant for me. In case you haven't already guessed (if you've actually read this whole post!), I have a real obsession with the concept of time being cyclical, of the past repeating itself endlessly (one of the themes I loved in The Great Gatsby). These two extras do exactly this.

The t shirt is a replica of the one Gerard wore during the first show they played. As I mentioned earlier, this later became a slogan inside the cover of their first album, a song on the second and the final word of their eulogy. As for the funeral brassard, the first piece of merch I bought from them was a funeral brassard way back in November 2005 (the night I met them, no less). I can't express how perfect it is for me to have my first and last piece of merchandise as the same item.


This post ended up being a lot longer than I intended, and for that I apologise. It was important for me to get all of my ideas down and to review this album with absolute precise attention to detail. It's a farewell; a eulogy. It really does bring a sense of closure to the whole concept of My Chemical Romance. Because, after all, that's what they always were: Not a band, but a concept. A plea to carry on. A promise of hope. A form of strength.  

Although a part of me desperately wants them to cling on to their musical desires and continue making music no matter how half-heartedly, a far bigger part of me is hugely respectful, and proud, that they have never compromised. The whole album tells us: "This is the end. We're dead. It's over". 
Knowing My Chemical Romance, however, there's always going to be that tiny seed of doubt...


  1. Totally agree with you that The Black Parade period always seemed a little as though the hearts weren't in it; as though it had become a mainstream money-making machine rather than something they loved anymore. I still have that little seed of doubt as well, though.

    1. I don't think their hearts weren't in it, as such. I just think they were trying to be bigger than they were and ended up being overshadowed by their alter-egos, losing sight of who they were.

  2. This actually made me tear up :(

    1. Where has the time gone, Helen? WHY ARE WE SO OLD?

  3. Beautiful post, Becky. You can see just how passionate you are, and always will be, about them.

    Their music meant a great deal to me during the Three Cheers era. I'll always return to that album whenever I want to be a little nostalgic. My first proper crush wore the tour hoodie to school and I remember thinking to myself that it was the sign of a good person, an understanding and accepting person.

    I was really disillusioned by Black Parade and, consequently, never really requited my love for the band again. Like you, I felt like they lost a little something...a rawness that I really enjoyed beforehand. However, they gave me some amazing memories and they'll always have a little place in my heart because of that.

    Great post.

    1. I was really into the Black Parade at the time. It was only afterwards that I looked back and thought "Yeah, that was just a big gimmick".

      So cute that you judged your crush's personality based on his hoodie choice!

  4. I don't think there was a MCR album I didn't like, Three Cheers was a teenage soundtrack for me though and will always have a big place in my heart. This is a fitting end to an era I think, as much as I'm gutted they are no more.

  5. I'll always love the Black Parade era because it's essentially what introduced me to their music. Before that I was into girly stuff like Britney Spears, Steps, S Club 7 and Shania Twain but then hearing Welcome to the Black Parade and seeing the video on TV really opened my eyes to other kinds of music and I bought the album as soon as I could along with my other introductions to the world of 'alternative' music Green Day, Nickelback, Maroon 5 and Coldplay. XD

    The Black Parade album will always be my favourite because it was my first, my introduction and the music helped me through school which was a bad period in my life. I was being bullied and was suicidal but the lyrics on that album really helped pull me through.

    This post was really inspiring and your passion really comes through. I'm just sad and majorly jealous that I will never get a chance to see them in concert. :(


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