The Chronicles of Life and Death is the third full-length studio album by Good Charlotte, released on October 5, 2004, through Daylight Records. The album was released with two different versions: a "Life" and a "Death" version which came with different cover art (designed by guitarist Billy Martin) and a special bonus track. There is also a Japanese version that has a different cover art as well as the special bonus tracks from both the "Life" and "Death" versions, including the hidden track "Wounded" at the end of the album. The album sold 117,000 in the first week. The Chronicles of Life and Death is the first and only album to feature Chris Wilson on drums.
The album has been widely considered a departure from their previous two albums, mixing new elements such as lyrical topics into Good Charlotte's youthful sound. Some sources have referred to the album as "emo". The album has different music styles. The opener track "Once Upon A Time: The Battle of Life and Death" is an instrumental opener with strings, a Japanese choir and an organ. "The Truth" is a piano ballad, and "I Just Wanna Live" has a hip hop beat with synthesized strings. Lyrically, the album also focuses on darker and more serious subject matter. "The World Is Black" is about apathy, "S.O.S" is about suicide, and "In This World (Murder) is about corporate greed.
The album was a decent commercial success, with the singles "I Just Wanna Live" and "Predictable" peaking decently on the charts. The album sold well, selling over 2.2 million copies. However, the album did not do as well commercially as their previous album did.
The album has received generally mixed reviews. At Metacritic, the album gained a 53 out of 100 based on 16 reviews. The New York Times gave a negative review, saying that the album was "full of ham-fisted ideas". New Musical Express also gave a negative review, saying "Half the time, Good Charlotte sound like Blink-182 after the snip, the other half they sound like the Backstreet Boys without the songs". However, Entertainment Weekly called the album "A giant leap forward--in instrumental prowess, and in emotional and melodic scope". Billboard said "The band takes its proven peppy rock sound to new heights".
E! Online also gave it a positive review, saying "Pulling off the tricky balancing act of aiming for mainstream success while keeping one's street cred intact, songs like 'Ghost of You' and 'Predictable' abandon the band's mall-rat roots in exchange for more mature influences like U2 and Muse". Sputnikmusic gave the album a 3.5 out of 5, saying "'The Chronicles Of Life And Death' stands as a testament to a mediocre pop quartet that went the extra mile to be sincere and produce an authentic, respectable piece of work". Village Voice gave the album a C+, saying "Beyond some rich-and-famous irony, not a single suburban detail soils an hour of good intentions. And you know the music overreaches too." Q Magazine said "It's nothing if not ambitious... [but] they simply don't have the depth, or the authority, to pull it off."