My Chemical Romance rhythm guitarist Frank Iero’s favorite MCR album is undoubtedly I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. The 2002 debut was a far more frantic and grittier post-hardcore effort than the band’s two subsequent albums of mainstream, darkly theatrical bombast. And with the first release from his mad-as-hell side project Leathermouth, Iero returns to his unruly roots with a nod to such precursors of social and political protest as Black Flag.
- Beyond the Weekly
The quintet eschews any semblance of melody for emotion, mostly that of raw frustration. XØ is a relentlessly heavy, frenetic and unmerciful collection; the only excess is its aggression. Alternately shrieked and snarled rather than sung, Iero’s lyrics concern school shootings, corrupt government, benumbed youth and the pitfalls of self-pity. But even with titles like “I Am Going to Kill the President of the United States of America,” Leathermouth ultimately come across less as controversial firebrands than a bunch of a bunch of angsty 20-something dissidents flailing about in a basement (which they very literally are).
XØ rages against the various machines just as a much-heralded Change simultaneously sweeps into office, yet despite the fortuitous timing Iero seems defiantly skeptical. In other words, in direct defiance to a huge MCR hit, it’s not okay, but damned if it ain’t cathartic all the same.