Happy Birthday to MCR's Ray Toro: 5 Times the Guitarist Absolutely Shredded
He birthed some of My Chemical Romance's greatest moments, let's take a look back
Known for his uncanny curly locks and gut-wrenching emo-harmonies, My Chemical Romance's lead guitarist, Ray Toro, has contributed monumentally to the quintet's full-bodied sound and narrative arc.
His emboldened ethereal call-and-response harmonies on "Helena" only added to the song's explosive angst and elevated the track's ringing chorus into the stratosphere. He was monumental in laying the gothic groundwork for The Black Parade, his guitar work garnering critic comparisons to Queen's legendary guitarist Brian May.
He was also the leading force behind MCR's #SINGItForJapan campaign, which supported those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. He took the band's original composition of "Sing" and stripped it down to barebones, layering it instead with an orchestral score that emulated the sound of traditional Japanese music. All proceeds from the remix went directly to the Red Cross.
The iconic emo rocker celebrates his 44th birthday today, and we've compiled a list of a few times he's absolutely shredded to pay homage. Happy birthday, Ray Toro; please don't ever cut your hair.
The bombastic opening to 2006's The Black Parade explodes with a flurry of guitar work from Mr. Toro himself. His talents propel the track's dramatic escalation, with it culminating in an anthemic flourish of plucks that are brief but hard-hitting and bouncy.
The harmonies are stacked to the heavens, and "Dead!'s" mid-way dramatic fanfare adds a sprinkle of quirky gothic charisma to the track, but all of it is brought crashing down in the end by Toro's uncanny shredding.
An overlooked gem on MCR's underappreciated third effort, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, the album's closure is filled with relentless feral energy that's already boiling over by the time Toro picks up the hammer. As Bob Bryer wails on the drums, and Gerard Way screams out "1234!" an impending sense of doom looms before Toro's explosive solo decimates anyone who dares to stand in his way. He then flawlessly brings himself back to earth and reunites with My Chem for a rip-roaring finale.
I Never Told You What I Did for a Living
While every track on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is iconic, Ray Toro reveals his inner metal on "I Never Told You What I Did for a Living." As Gerard Way's wild growl split our eardrums, Toro elevated it further with his unchained crunches, before effortlessly flipping the switch into soft, reserved strum.
The track is a harrowing finale to a near-perfect record and provides an indicator of Toro's versatile talent with his hammer.
Welcome To The Black Parade
With the theatricality of the '70s and the angst of post-9/11 punk music, "Welcome to the Black Parade" remains the apex of MCR's identity. At initial glance soft and reserved, the track slowly comes unchained, with Toro at the helm.
By the track's second act, Toro's plucks make Gerard Way's desperate cries of grief arena-ready, and the track caused critics to suddenly look at Toro as a force that rivaled Queen's own Brian May. Driven by the angst of punk and metal, Toro transformed "Welcome to the Black Parade" into a conceptual piece of high art.
Famous Last Words
My Chem has always known how to close out a record. On another bout of powerful strumming from The Black Parade, "Famous Last Words" finds Toro relaxing comfortably behind Gerard. But then out of nowhere, Toro unveils a short little ditty that borders on prog-rock, fueling the track's explosive final act.
As MCR reunites and relentlessly teases new music, it's clear from their Los Angeles reunion this past winter that Toro has honed his talents even further, and he's once again ready to unleash his gnarly shredders on the mortal world.
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