The documentary A Band Called Death feels a bit like opening a washing machine midcycle. There’s still a bit of dirt, but everything is warm and sudsy. Directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett chronicle the struggles of the three brothers who became the Detroit punk group Death, all the way from their largely anonymous beginnings in the ’70s to their belated rise to stardom in 2009. Though the directors place undue emphasis on the fact that Death was making music two years before the Ramones, the film succeeds when the two surviving band members are allowed to play equal parts evangelist and punk-rocker. Bobby and Dennis Hackney are best when probed about their beliefs, as when they recall their decision to reject a $20,000 record deal after the label asked them to change their name to something more marketable. But Covino and Howlett can lose sight of the Hackneys’ story of family and faith, and their desire to spin a rock story at times overshadows the brothers’ compelling spiritual exploration.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
- Critic's Score: B
- Watch the trailer