With absolutely no warning, My Chemical Romance released their first new song in eight years last night (May 12) ahead of their global reunion tour. Clocking in at six minutes and touching on stadium rock, doom metal and basement punk, ‘The Foundations Of Decay’ is a snarling, swaggering beast that proves the band have lost absolutely none of their fire in their time apart.
With the flamboyant emo of the ’00s very much back in fashion, it would be easy for the New Jersyans to simply pick up where they left off. And, sure, there are respectful nods to their decade-long career across ‘The Foundations Of Decay’ – the venomous closing scream that would fit on debut album ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’; the head-banging ‘The Black Parade’ guitar breakdown – but, more than anything, the comeback track finds My Chemical Romance reinventing themselves once more.
Opening with a burst of static and a haunted guitar line reminiscent of Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’, the brooding intro to ‘The Foundations Of Decay’ sees Way wrestle with legacy (“he dreams of all the battles won”) and getting older (“let the flesh submit itself to gravity”).
Elsewhere the lyrics reference 9/11 (the catalyst for My Chemical Romance’s formation: “The world changed that day, and the next day we set about trying to change the world, the explained in a statement in September) and find Way struggling with nihilism, nostalgia and the safety of not doing anything. It’s very 2022 but also feels like the band are questioning their own existence and if they’ve got anything left to offer the world apart from the greatest hits.
As with everything My Chemical Romance have ever do, though, ‘Foundations Of Decay’ bristles with hope. “Let’s flip out against faith” Way snarls over a punishing assault of electric guitar. “We are free / The guiltiness is yours”. By the end of the track, he softly sings that “it comforts me much more to lay in the foundations of decay” before realising that no one changed anything by doing nothing. “Get up, coward” he screams.
With a back catalogue of songs about isolation, despair and loneliness with a defiant optimism, My Chemical Romance have always been an important, influential band. During their hiatus, that reverence has only grown as a new generation of fans discover them and their message. New music was always going to be a risk, but ‘Foundations Of Decay’ never sounds bogged down with legacy. Across the track, there’s fire, urgency and plenty of joy as My Chemical Romance return in fine, fearless form.