When I stumbled upon this Instagram post just a few months ago, I was extremely excited for the new direction that UK band As It Is was going in. For starters, I thought it was cool that the band conceptualized the overall idea for the album before doing any of the work, as opposed to albums being thrown together and not having any understandable cohesion (*cough cough* MANIA). If you haven’t caught on yet, The Great Depression is a concept album. We follow the story of The Poet, his wife, and Death, while we venture through themes of depression, mental health, and societal values.
This album is a huge departure from their previous cookie-cutter pop punk sound, and ventures into more rock/post-hardcore vibes. While there are some more poppy sounding choruses, like in “The Handwritten Letter” and “The Truth I’ll Never Tell,” the instrumentals really showcase this album as a rock record. A lot of the songs on this album come with soaring guitar riffs, memorable bass lines, and fast paced drums. Paired with grittier vocals from lead singer Patty Walters, this album seems to be perfectly imperfect.
More memorable tracks from this album include “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry),” “The Fire, The Dark,” and “The Handwritten Letter.” There are a couple songs that don’t really resonate with me, such as “The Question, The Answer,” and “The Hurt, The Hope.”
Overall, however, I think that this album is cohesive and great to listen to in order (as it was intended.) The album “splits” itself into four sections: “Stage I: Denial,” “Stage II: Anger,” “Stage III: Bargaining,” and “Stage IV: Accepting.” There’s nothing in the music that actually “splits” them apart or anything, but rather they are just there to better understand the themes in the songs that fall into those stages. It’s interesting and fits with the concept, but doesn’t do much else.
I think As It Is executed the idea in a nice manner and deserves credit for that. This album works cohesively and most of the songs also stand well on their own. I think one of the only “negative” things I have to say about it is that it feels extremely similar to the “Black Parade” era.
My Chemical Romance came out with their concept album, The Black Parade, over a decade ago in 2006. The Black Parade follows the main character known as “The Patient” as he fights through cancer, confronts death, and experiences afterlife. My Chem moved on from their last album and assumed the roles of The Black Parade by performing in black marching uniforms. The album was a key point in 2000’s music, being compared and standing the test of time with other great albums of the time (and all time), like Green Day’s American Idiot.
Okay Jen, let’s get to the point: there are so many similarities with The Great Depression and The Black Parade — almost too many sometimes.
1.) As concept albums usually work, we follow around characters: “The Poet” in TGD and “The Patient” in TBP.
2.) Both have songs called “The End.” with it being the first track on TBP and the last track on TGD.
3.) Both cover themes of death and confronting death.
4.) As It Is’ presentation is extremely similar to the Helena era of MCR — black suits and red accents, whether that be ties, undershirts, etc. Not to mention, Walters looks eerily similar with his new black hair do.
I loved The Black Parade, and I do genuinely enjoy The Great Depression — both are great albums. Although they have similarities, they both do their own thing. Perhaps As It Is was heavily inspired by My Chemical Romance to create this. The point I’m really getting at by comparing the two is that I don’t feel as if the idea was entirely original. Sure, they took a different route from MCR, but the similarities show me that maybe this is just their own version, which is totally fine.
As I stated before, I don’t think that should take away from all the good of this album. I think this album is excellent on its own, even if The Black Parade didn’t exist. As a society, we needed an album like this right now. While it probably won’t hit the mainstream, I think it is spreading awareness about a band who has proven themselves to not just be another generic pop punk band, but a band that can actually bend the genre and create new ideas that build off of previous ideas.
I give this album a 4/5.