Over the years, Frank Iero has invested his musical talents in a variety of solo endeavors — pre-, during, and post-My Chemical Romance. His projects in most recent years have had a tendency to transform and change musically with each release, as he applies an overall tone to each album and has worked with a few different lineups of bandmates to back him.
Iero’s current lineup with Frank Iero and the Future Violents is like lightning in a bottle. These musicians all bring something incredible to the table that, when put together as one cohesive musical act, is just downright brilliant. The Future Violents released their full-length album Barriers back in 2019, and it’s the kind of record that just overflows with the power and energy to tear you apart and put you back together again all at once.
There were a few extra tracks that didn’t quite make the final cut of the album, but instead remained lying in wait. Iero paired these with a cover they had also previously done of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” and thus Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place was born alongside the modified moniker The Future Violence.
The record opens with “Violence,” ready to split listeners open emotionally without pretense. After a brief instrumental intro, Iero’s vocals come in, carrying a raw and desperate energy that will remain consistent through the closing track. Iero has changed up his vocal style time and time again with his various musical projects, and this is by far the sweet spot for him. The song edges back and forth between a buildup of energy before nestling back down to lean into Iero’s voice as he steadies the rhythm once more — a theme that listeners will find throughout. The chorus to “Violence,” “Your violence feels like kisses to me/ Your silence makes it harder to breathe/ Your distance feels like I’m not enough,” will stick with you, even after the song comes to a close and moves on to “Sewerwolf.”
I’ve had this next track on repeat since its early release, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. “Sewerwolf” paces back and forth like a hungry predator weighing its options, soothing you into a false sense of security before tearing you down in a burst of untethered intensity. The depth of emotion poured into this track is palpable. It takes shape like ravenous waves out at sea that calmly lap at the shore once the tide brings them in … only to be drug back out again, wild and unrestrained.
“Losing My Religion” is a brief departure from the other three tracks on Heaven Is A Place, taking a quieter acoustic turn led by Iero and Kayleigh Goldsworthy’s vocals. It fits though, functioning like the eye of the storm as it softly embodies a stripped-down version of the album’s vibe.
All bets are off as we move into the aptly named “Record Ender.” If your feelings have remained intact thus far, this track is here to rip you apart in a way that listeners won’t soon forget. “If the air is heavy you can hold my breath and I’ll hold yours/ If it makes you happy I’ll wrestle the sun, the moon, and the stars to the ground.” Clocking in at just over six and a half minutes, “Record Ender” feels like a long drive down a winding road. Iero’s lyrics have always been a poetically emotional roller coaster, and things are no different this time around: “Because it takes a mess to love a wreck.”
Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place is undoubtedly one of the best releases to come from Iero’s music career, period. It’s a record that will carve a place out inside of you, leaving the memory of a taste in your mouth and the ghost of a touch that will keep you coming back for more.