frnkiero andthe cellabration - '.stomachaches.' (Album Review)

It’s 11PM on Friday 26th August, 2011. My Chemical Romance have just headlined Reading Festival, a set which saw the emo kingpins bring legendary Queen guitarist Brian May out for their encore. The band had sold millions of units across four albums, declared war on The Daily Mail and won, and captured the collective heart of a generation. They were undeniably the biggest rock band of their time.

So you can imagine the magnitude of the heartbreak that ensued when My Chemical Romance announced in March 2013, after 12 years as a unit, that they were disbanding. Once the band’s loyal fanbase (known as the ‘MCRmy’) had dried their eyes, they began to speculate what was to emerge from the band’s ashes...

As the first member of MCR to release an album as a solo artist, guitarist Frank Iero has adopted the new moniker frnkiero andthe cellabration, to release his debut effort .stomachaches.. Naming the record after the crippling afflictions he suffers as the result of a stomach condition, Frank’s illness can be so severe that there are times when he can hardly stand. Nevertheless, he ventured into his New Jersey basement studio, where he poured not only his pain but his passion into long-awaited new material.

Playing every instrument except drums on .stomachaches., Frank has always kept his seeds firmly planted in punk and post-hardcore, even as My Chem refined their sound to appease larger, more mainstream audiences. While his former bandmate Gerard Way is peddling his Britpop-influenced wares with a new 80s-era Bowie-meets-Johnny Lydon persona, Iero has migrated to somewhat simpler pastures.

‘.weighted.’, the first we ever heard from frnkiero andthe cellabration, wields an explosive chorus that brings alt.rock underdogs The Wildhearts to mind; it was, as the narrative of its gruesome music video suggested, the start of a momentous rebirth. Album opener ‘.all I want is nothing.’ and second single ‘.joyriding.’ are brash, brief and brilliant, driven by frenzied hardcore hooks, while ‘.stage 4 fear of trying.’ is a shoegazey affair that so beautifully consists of one man and his guitar, guaranteed not only to tug but to heave at the heartstrings.

‘.blood infections.’ and ‘.she's the prettiest girl at the party, and she can prove it with a solid right hook.’ take the emo theatricals of MCR’s later work, and pass them through a row of distortion pedals: the former stylistically and vocally resembles the band’s sophomore record, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, while the latter is oddly reminiscent of the band’s conceptually morbid magnum opus, The Black Parade.

.stomachaches. then transcends into ‘.stitches.’, with verses that are lined by subtle post-punk tones, but a chorus that lacks the infectious immediacy of the rest of the record. ‘.neverenders.’ sees Iero throw his soothing-as-sandpaper vocals (which balance between fragile and furious throughout .stomachaches.) into full, bile-flecked overdrive, following closely behind ‘.tragician.’: a glorious skate-punk anthem with elements of melancholic late-90s emo, in what is undeniably one of the defining moments of this record.

.stomachaches. is so rough around the edges, it tears through the void left by My Chemical Romance on a ballistic punk rampage. The record’s DIY production and aesthetic pleasantly contradict the gargantuan rock opera that was Frank’s former calling card. This isn’t the most polished rock record you’ll hear this year, and that is the understatement to end all understatements. Frank Iero has come out swinging with a fistful of lo-fi fuzz, channelling searing physical anguish and emotional turmoil into dark, abrasive and wonderful art.

DOWNLOAD: '.weighted.'; '.stage 4 fear of trying.'; '.tragician.'


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