LeATHERM0UTH – [Album]

Friday, 23 January 2009

Can a leopard actually change his spots? With the proliferation of splinter celled bands and “super groups” that have appeared over the last few years (The White Stripes begat The Raconteurs, both The Bastards and The Transplants have wormed their way out of Rancid, Alexisonfire has exploded since first appearing to yield no less than four part-time projects – City And Colour, The Black Lungs, Bergenfield Four and Fucked Up – and  Toronto indie rock fixture Jim Guthrie has recently teamed with Islands front man Nick Thorburn for Human Highway to name only a few), a case has been made for the notion that, yes, musicians in professional bands be versatile and are capable of thinking outside their own creative box but, realistically, the voices involved with those projects are very distinctive and each of their supplementary acts could simply be viewed as nothing more than the same cats in different pyjamas – the difference there, but fairly dubious and superficial. So after seven years of making marvellously mainstream pop-punk/hardcore-lite with My Chemical Romance and, given the established trend that splinter bands seem to operate under, one could reasonably suspect what LeATHERMØUTH would have in store for listeners before the proverbial needle even drops; outside of the odd superficial variation or perhaps being served with a scruffier production style, any record to come out of My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero’s “other” band – while possibly of interest to My Chem super-fans – would simply be more of the same diluted song and mosh.

People that haven’t heard LeATHERMØUTH before could think that –  but they’d be wrong.

Even a cursory listen to any of the ten songs that comprise makes the difference between My Chemical Romance and LeATHERMØUTH plain though: comparatively, My Chem appears as a yappy, leg-humping cocker spaniel to LeATHERMØUTH’s pit bull maul.

As different as the two bands are, that doesn’t mean that LeATHERMØUTH is peerless as the growling, attenuated descending guitar riff unloads and opens “5th Period Massacre.” Jettisoning the Eighties hair metal and Seventies arena rock posturing that bands including My Chemical Romance have turned platinum again over the last few years, Iero and principle collaborating guitarist Rob Hughes re-animate the spirit of Black Flag (the general sound here is similar to that of the band’s later work – when they were starting to slow down and incorporate more elements of the blues and hard rock into their sound) but also go one step further by making anyone within earshot believe that their convictions are absolutely unimpeachable and they’ll die for the music they’re making. LeATHERMØUTH blurs its way through a series of cruel anthems including “Sunsets Are For Muggings,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “Leviathan” (the longest song on is “I Am Going To Kill The President Of The United States Of America” at 2:59) and Iero – taking his first full-time turn in front of the mic – exorcises every ounce of aggression in him with an unrelenting succession of shrieks that will make the blood of any listener run cold as ice.

Now that is out, the real test will begin for Frank Iero’s pet project – to see if it has any staying power. It’s one thing to record an album and put it out (the sterile, studio environment gives an unending number of takes to get parts nailed down and keep even the most ragged edges clean), but it’s quite another to take it out on the road and perform it live for a series of dates on a nightly basis and maintain the same caliber and level of quality on command. is, in that way, as imposing a beast for listeners as it is for those making the music and one can’t help but wonder how this singer will survive this self-imposed trial to go back to his day job.


LeATHERMØUTH official website



XØ is out January 27. Buy it on Amazon.

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