Refused - Refused Are Fucking Dead [DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Refused

Refused: Refused Are Fucking Dead [DVD]

Refused Are Fucking Dead [DVD] (2006)

Burning Heart


3
Refused are fucking dead. But the autopsy is kinda half-assed. Refused being fucking dead is a fact well-ingrained into the minds of most who attest to enjoy punk rock. This fact has been attempted to be constructed in a form of visual media for several years now by Burning Heart Recor...

Refused are fucking dead.

But the autopsy is kinda half-assed.

Refused being fucking dead is a fact well-ingrained into the minds of most who attest to enjoy punk rock. This fact has been attempted to be constructed in a form of visual media for several years now by Burning Heart Records and guitarist Kristofer Steen, who documented and anchored the footage that would eventually make up Refused Are Fucking Dead, a DVD taking a look at the legendary Swedish hardcore band's final days. And considering this piece of potential history has been under the knife for such a considerably long time, the results are slightly disappointing.

The main feature here doesn't even eclipse the 40-minute mark, credits included. And it's hard to give credit to the documentary in terms of the quantity/quality argument, as it still feels a bit incomplete. Visually, it's stunning, as Steen's camera captures beautifully clear, digital shots of the band members performing situated tasks (walking, writing, etc.) while the narration takes place. Steen slips into arty territory with fast-motion clips of random landscapes and such, but his soundtracks are wonderful, as he tends to employ beautiful, moving classical pieces.

The narration, by the way, is mostly in Swedish, but the DVD has an English subtitles option that smartly forgoes them when English is being spoken the few times it is.

However, live footage is miniscule, with only three complete live songs contained within the documentary, all from the same venue. The green-tinted footage of the band's final show ever, at a basement in Harrisonburg, VA, feels like a blessing to see, but it serves up perhaps half of "Rather Be Dead" and little else.

As far as the story itself, the band members are honest and open, with the focus on the title of the DVD itself. There's a drastically brief look at how the band started, while most of the time the talking heads of Dennis Lyxzén, David Sandström, and Jon Brännström are used to an advantage. The feelings of loss, desperation, and hopelessness regarding the band's situation are conveyed well, especially with fluent coverage of Brännström's immediate fallout ocurring during what would be the band's final tour, one in the U.S. in late 1999. One does get the sense of what the band was feeling for the most part; they even acknowledge the contradiction of their beliefs and actions at one point from one band member's view, but it almost feels like something's being held back.

The extras appear full of effort on paper. Live videos of 9 selections off the band's 1998 landmark The Shape of Punk to Come are offered, as well as their music videos for "Rather Be Dead" and "New Noise." All these live videos appear to be bootlegs or shot by amateurs (with no intended offense to the respective filmographers). Consequentially, the results are quite mixed. The video quality of "Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull" is downright terrible, and the audio doesn't fare entirely better, as Lyxzén's voice is virtually inaudible for the duration of the entire song. "Liberation Frequency," "Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine" and "The Deadly Rythm" are better; the sight of the rest of the band members looking on as the stop-starts usher in the latter is one to see. "The Refused Party Progam" has spectacular video quality with the band giving off an admirably energetic performance, but the audio is horribly minimized in volume. Sadly, there's no "The Apollo Progamme Was a Hoax" here, which would've been an amazing performance to watch.

Refused Are Fucking Dead isn't necessarily outright bad, but it's disappointing in how simply economical it is, a strange term to use when referring to Refused, and that it prevents it from really acting as a complete final chapter on a band who deserves as extensive of one as any.

TRAILER (Quicktime)