Last time we heard from rock ’n’ roll troubadour Frank Iero, his solo project’s latest incarnation turned full band, The Future Violents, had just released 2019’s critically acclaimed Barriers. Now, with a new and uncertain decade in full swing, this year sees the arrival of a companion piece of sorts in the form of a four-track EP titled Heaven is a Place, This is a Place.

For Iero, the EP’s title speaks to the power of imagination. Heaven, in all its divine majesty and conceit, draws power from the human mind. It requires human desire to make it real, physical, tangible. Much in the same way that Iero’s side project can shift and change its moniker with the My Chemical Romance guitarist’s musical ambitions. What was once a celebration, then a form of patience, is now the future—and a violent one to boot.

In this way, Heaven is a Place, This is a Place looks both backward and forward across Iero’s musical journey. Opener “Violence” picks up from Barriers’ modern punk rock and injects it with bluesy leads and an infectious chorus. Iero’s cadence and vocal inflection here sound painfully earnest at times, hitting the necessary notes to make the track sound more like an emotional bloodletting than just a radio-friendly barnburner.

Follow-up “Sewerwolf” highlights the talents of Iero’s compatriots, with Evan Nestor’s distorted guitar reverberating against his coarse, backing screams. The band’s rhythm section—rounded out by Thursday’s Tucker Rule on drums and Murder by Death’s Matt Armstrong on bass—adds a murky texture and grit to the track’s hefty chorus.

Chasing this double hit of aggression, Side B brings calm in the form of a cover of REM’s classic “Losing My Religion.” It’s a sweet rendition accented by mandolin, and violin, complemented by the interplay between Iero and Kayleigh Goldsworthy’s delicate vocal refrains.

Closer “Record Ender” fulfils its purpose admirably, drawing out the EP’s most extended composition into a mournful post-hardcore banger. Goldsworthy’s keys and piano play beautifully against Iero’s verses, reaching a fever-pitch during the track’s towering chorus movements.

Heaven is a Place, This is a Place shows that Iero & Co are capable of chameleonic acts of songwriting prowess. After all, the stage (or studio) is also just a place, and in it, The Future Violents sound right at home.

Pre-order Heaven is a Place, This is a Place here.

Author

Owen Morawitz is a writer, thirty-something human male and an avid devourer of coffee, literature, philosophy, film noir and science fiction. He enjoys carving out a meaningless existence in the abyssal void, venturing beyond the bounds of the Southern Hemisphere, and listening to music that’s at times poignant, abrasive and restless—except when hungover.

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