When last we heard from Frank Iero and the Future Violents—that being Guitarist/Backing Vocalist Evan Nestor, Bassist Matt Armstrong (Murder By Death), Drummer Tucker Rule (Thursday), and, never least, multi-instrumentalist Kayleigh Goldsworthy—they were breaking down personal Barriers. Two years later, they are back with a companion EP entitled Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place, which is slated to arrive on Friday, January 15, 2021 thanks to UNFD.
Yes, yes, we know: Iero’s name excites your little emo heart and conjures thoughts of darkly theatrical parades through the apocalypse. We get it. But have you heard the man’s ‘solo’ material? The past eight years have hardly been a time to sit idle for the talented guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, who has offered up a multitude of projects—from the Hardcore LeATHERMØUTH to Death Spells with James Dewees (The Get Up Kids, Reggie & The Full Effect), to Frnkiero and the Cellabration who later underwent a name change to Frank Iero and the Patience.
Seemingly settling on the moniker Frank Iero and the Future Violents, the band, which is obviously fronted by the former My Chemical Romance guitarist, offered up the stellar Barriers in 2019, an LP that waved the middle finger to preconceived notions. Continuing on a similar pathway, for 2021, Iero and co. serve up the appetite whetting 4-song EP, Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place.
They begin what they consider to be Side A of the release by exploring the meaning of “Violence.” With its smoky guitar licks that set the band to jamming, and Iero’s passionate, bluesy vocals, this raw, lo-fi offering delivers a mature rage. This works perfectly alongside the viscous sludge of “Sewerwolf,” with a 1990’s grungy influence to its dense sonics. Carefully constructed to send an acknowledging shiver up the spine of its listeners, it evokes a time when flannel was high fashion and we were all smelling of teen angst.
Flip the switch, because there’s a massive disconnect between what you just heard and what comes next. And that is the delicate mandolin work of Goldsworthy enticing us into “Losing My Religion,” a wispy cover of the 1991 R.E.M. hit. Softening the mood, but staying true to the collection, the song allows Iero to show off another facet of his and the band’s complicated personality. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Goldsworthy’s and Nestor’s backing vocals are the perfect complement to the frontman, or that we can all sing-along with ease.
At just over six and a half minutes, the amusingly and appropriately-titled “Record Ender” is the obvious stand-out of the short collection. A Punk Rock ballad with piano, it soars with emotion, sincerity, and beautiful musicianship as Iero promises to try to smile.
Which is pretty much all any of us can hope to accomplish these days. But it’s nice to be able to set reality aside and lose ourselves in new music, especially an EP that offers two divergent pieces of Iero and the Future Violents’ split personality. Though Heaven Is a Place, This Is a Place opens to the raucous Rock-n-Roll that one might expect of the band, it soon dives headfirst into a more self-reflective and mature soundscape that issues the EP’s final crescendo. This results in a short but tantalizing whetting of the appetite for fans who are awaiting the band’s next full-length, one that is the promise of some killer ‘moto-pop’ to come. As such, Cryptic Rock gives Frank Iero and the Future Violents’ latest 4.5 of 5 stars.