Slicing through the pain of rescheduled My Chemical Romance concerts came a vinyl shaped light in the darkness of 2020. With the surprise announcement of new EP Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place Frank Iero gives us some much-needed joy at the end of a disappointing and depressing year.
Eagled eyed fans may notice Frank and his band are now going under the name of Frank Iero and the Future Violence instead of previous name The Future Violents. It is a well-known fact that Frank changes his band name with every release and this play on words is something he’s done before too with his previous band line-up - under the moniker of Frank Iero & The Patience they released full length Parachutes, but follow up EP Keep The Coffins Coming came out under the slightly altered name of Frank Iero & The Patients. We see a pattern emerging.
This latest offering from the Future Violence then – which is, by the way, the same lineup - was announced along with the release of the band’s cover of REM classic ‘Losing My Religion’. It’s a delightful little interpretation of the track – laid back and raw, with Frank’s vocals at some of their most tender. It also fully utilises the harmonic capabilities of keyboardist and violin player Kayleigh Goldsworthy, with her and Frank’s vocals blending beautifully together and balancing out the track well. While their version is certainly a lovely cover, it’s always going to be tough to match up against such a classic and, realistically, this will probably be the track that gets skipped the most in favour of the original content.
Designed to be a companion record to 2019 full length Barriers, the EP has certainly come at a time when we all needed it – starting out an uncertain 2021 with both hope and trepidation; and there’s little doubt that the gutsy, blues opener of ‘Violence’ is exactly what the doctor ordered to warm our hearts in these cold, dark winter months. Even the title seems very apt at the moment too, considering everything currently going on in the world, and ‘Violence’ is a fiery and determined way to open the EP. Undoubtedly one of the most obvious blues-rock influenced tracks Frank has put out, it’s a rowdy number with what feels like yelps and howls of passion from Frank’s distinct vocal cords. But it’s the guitars that drive this track; the dirty, repetitive riff slicing through the speakers and setting the pulse racing, perfectly offset with the thundering drums. Littered with peaks and troughs, the track drops out during the verses then kicks in again hard for the choruses; the perfect lead in to second single ‘Sewerwolf’. Fans have already had chance to lose their minds over this one and rightly so. Full of swagger and attitude, the track opens up by Frank informing us “on the day I was born the skies shattered and wept.” This one’s got all the hallmarks of a classic Frank Iero number: poetic lyrical content, off-kilter riffs, thick walls of rhythmic guitars and a chaotic mix of singing and screams which Frank moves effortlessly between.
The music on the EP has very purposely been split into two halves, making it perfect for a vinyl release. Side A is the upbeat, guitar driven, ballsy side of the record whereas Side B brings things down a notch with track three being the aforementioned ‘Losing My Religion’ and track four being the appropriately named ‘Record Ender’. Certainly the song is deserving of its finishing spot. Coming in at a lengthy 6 minutes and 38 seconds, it opens up with a soft bass riff then kicks in and transcends into a soaring, passion filled power ballad which leaves listeners shaken but eager for more.
Perhaps putting the full stop on this particular project for good, Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place is the perfect bookend. Four delightful tracks to assault all senses, leaving us with the stirring nostalgia of sweaty gigs, rowdy moshpits and those songs that make us cry a little. Bittersweet and uplifting in equal measure, one cannot listen to these tracks without missing the unique atmosphere of a live environment; but until that day we can get back to normal we at least have Frank to get us through.