The Foundations Of Decay: Have Old Bands Really Still Got It, Or Are They Falling Apart?

As My Chemical Romance play their first UK dates in over a decade, and release their first new music in eight years, there has never been a better time to look back and think about whether bands that disbanded and have since reformed were worth it, and whether they should be releasing new music or not.

The obvious first example is the aforementioned emo heavyweights, My Chemical Romance. They released four incredible albums, a few singles, and a greatest hits album, all between formation and break up. Their last release came in 2014, after the bands final live dates, and everyone was convinced this was the last we would ever see of the legendary band.

However, in 2019 their were rumours they had been practicing together, and the rumours were confirmed when the band released a statement saying they would play a single concert at the LA Shrine, which they followed with a tour announcement across the US and the UK, as well as festival headlines across the world. The pandemic slightly shifted their plans, but with even more dates announced across Europe and the US the band show no signs of slowing, and the most exciting part is that on Friday 13th May 2022, they completely blindsided the music world by dropping a single absolutely out of nowhere.

Now is the serious part of the debate, whether it was worth them releasing new music or should they have kept to the older stuff? In my opinion, the new song is an utterly brilliant addition to their catalogue, with some of the heaviest music they’ve ever written, firmly throwing us back to their first album in terms of style, with a post hardcore song called The Foundations Of Decay. It’s a captivating example of what the band can do, and to all intents and purposes looks like only the first song in what may be an up-and-coming run to a full on album release.

However, they aren’t the only band to make an epic return from the grave in recent times. The inimitable Rage Against The Machine dragged themselves back together after a decade of radio silence and are once again going on tour, however are yet to release new music. The band are known for their incendiary live performances and scathing political commentary, so in such a delicate political time surely they must be the right band to be releasing new music?

I would suggest otherwise, as their discography is currently one of the most bulletproof of any band in history, with three crushing albums that don’t have a single moment of wasted space. They have aged twenty years since they last released music, and the fire and acid of their youth may well have been replaced by a more bitter, or more mellow and mature, outlook on life. Either way, to sully such a back catalogue as theirs would be a crime in the eyes of their fans, and as such I would suggest they are firmly in the section of bands I would heartily recommend to keep playing the classics, at least for the moment.

Another example of a band in this vein is the band System Of A Down. They are also known for their political commentary, as well as the bizarre musical style they have made into a signature of their sound. The band were one of the biggest bands in alt music during the early 2000s, however, split up in 2005 and went their own ways. They reformed in 2020 and are playing dates around the globe at the moment, but the key difference between System and Rage is that System have released new music.

It was as political as ever, unsurprisingly, but it fell flat musically as it just wasn’t up to the enormously high standards that the band had set themselves, and it was a massive disappointment to the fans. The songs themselves, of which there were two, aren’t bad at all, in fact they are perfectly good songs, but perfectly good is not the way that a System Of A Down song should be described. The band were known for being outright zany, and for weaving thrash metal and Armenian cultural music together in a bizarre yet brilliant mix, that would invariably have people both confused and delighted. Their latest music was enjoyable to listen to, but didn’t have the bounce of their previous releases, and is not quite what anyone was hoping for.

I think this shows is that ultimately, it’s up to the band themselves to show whether new music is worth it or not, and if they think they can live up to the standards of their previous music, then who are we to discern that for ourselves?

Realistically, this debate is entirely speculatory, as all I have managed to tell you is that three bands did two different things and two of them succeeded and one didn’t, so doesn’t help to provide a concrete solution for deciding which band should do what. However, what I think this shows is that ultimately, it’s up to the band themselves to show whether new music is worth it or not, and if they think they can live up to the standards of their previous music, then who are we to discern that for ourselves? If a band only wants to play live music, and not release any new music, then they should be able to do so as they wish.

Ultimately though, whilst I would love if all bands that reform can release some new music that both shows how they have grown as people, and also lives up to the lofty standards we as fans set for our favourite groups, it should not be an expectation, and we should be glad that they decide to reform at all, let alone even think about releasing new music.

Jake Longhurst


Edited by: Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of My Chemical Romance via Facebook.