Years before the Hot Topic sponsored emo craze was the iconic debut from a band in New Jersey. My Chemical Romance dropped their debut on July 23, 2002. From there, they only went up, rose to the top of the ranks, and entered what would be known as the “Emo Trinity.” Let’s take a look back at what makes this record so spectacular.
I Brought you My Bullets You Brought Me Your Love (Eyeball Records) produced by Geoff Rickly was MCR’s introduction into the underground scene. Written and inspired after the events of 9/11, Bullets has remained one of the band’s darkest features to date.
While it’s considered an emo album, it takes a distinctly post-punk/goth route. The band was delectably rough around the edges, due to vocalist Gerard Way recording while enduring a dental abscess. With gritty instrumentals and nearly haphazard playing, the crew forged a horror fan’s best nightmare.
The record stands out against its contemporaries due to the nature and thematic concepts of the record, indeed, it’s recognized as a concept album, but it’s a sinister story. We follow to lovers into the pits of hell, fighting vampires and the undead. The follow up to this story would come later on with their second album. However, the track, “Skylines and Turnstiles” was directly inspired by 9/11, whereas “Early Sunsets over Monroeville,” inspired by the Romero film, “Dawn of the Dead.”
The record starts with the instrumental track, “Romance,” an overture to guide us into the operatic feature we’ll be indulging in. This track gently weaves the introduction to the tragic narrative with mandolin plucking and static, leading into thrashing guitars and Way’s wavering vocals.
Carrying on with sweeping, almost melodramatic vocals, and break-neck playing this record expertly evokes a sense of dread through the entirety. However, the crown jewel of the album is the third track, “Vampires Will Never Hurt you,” a nearly six-minute ode to fighting off vampires.
This track features thrashing guitars, that swallow any emotional clarity in the desperation of the need to survive the night. The vocals are intense and cathartic, as Way sings, “Can you stake my heart?!”
Continuing the momentum from the previous track, the record takes a more pop-punk approach with “Early Sunsets Over Monoroeville.” It’s oddly relaxed, with slightly muffled vocals. It feels like a nearly watered down memory. It inspires the cinematic feeling of driving down an empty highway, twisting through the American Pacific Northwest, covered in blood and crying for the lover that didn’t survive the horror of fighting off zombies.
Early Sunsets is an odd lovesong, wrapped up in a package of cymbal heavy beats and guitars it teeters on being spoken word. “There’s no room in this hell, there’s no room in the next” seems to be the unifying theme of the record, and perhaps a prevailing theme for recent days.
As a whole, Bullets managed to amalgamate the growing sub-culture that was beginning to bloom during the y2k emo days and post 9/11 anxiety. This record was the introduction to a dying sub-genre of horror punk, MCR re-evaluated what that genre could be and elevated it.
Their debut into the alternative world wasn’t a whisper, but a blood-curdling scream. Years later, Bullets still holds up as one of the best debuts of the early 2000’s alt scene, and it’s cult appreciation catapulted MCR to fame in the following years. It’s easy to forget that this record exists, but it’s worth taking the trip to 2002 to listen to raw talent and the introduction to emo legends.
The record can be streamed on all platforms, and the vinyl copy can be purchased here.