When My Chemical Romance released Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge in 2004, the New Jersey quintet leapt to instant pop-punk stardom. Appearances on MTV, AOL Sessions and a tour with The Used solidified the band’s position as a commercial angst powerhouse. Now, four years later, MCR returns with an album packed full of live performances and extras from their half-decade together.

Morgan Morel

The problem is, no matter how many times you repackage shit, it still smells.

Life on the Murder Scene is essentially a greatest-hits box set, encompassing the band’s entire catalog – a whopping two albums’ worth. The record is also packed with material: More than four hours of footage via two DVDs, which include a video diary, live concert shots, music videos, the making of the music videos and special studio sessions. Also included is a CD with live tracks from MTV performances, special demos and a previously unreleased track.

The disc highlights MCR’s tried and true live acts as well as hit songs from their first two records. MTV favorites “Helena” and “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” are presented live, while demos of “I Never Told You What I Do for a Living” and “Bury Me in Black” are also included.

The sheer bleakness of the album is overwhelming. The DVD menu screens show more death, blood, morgues and bullets than a studio horror movie. Even the packaging creates a game to play with your friends: Guess how many ways a wedding couple can be bloodied and stained.

The video diary delves deep into the lives of the group members, chronicling the early stages of the group. It reads like a VH1 “Behind the Music,” highlighting frontman Gerard Way’s battle with alcohol and drugs. The band also discusses their unique sense of fashion, explaining how they try to go for the “dead look.” They play for cameras while straightening their hair, blackening their eyes and creating fake, bloodied wounds before shows. Look for flak jackets at your local Hot Topic soon.

The diary also describes the band’s divinity. Numerous fans claim that MCR has saved their lives. The bandmates also join the fun, stating that the group kept them away from depression and the hateful outside world. After all, isn’t punk rock all about saving lives?

The second DVD is a two-hour concoction of live performances, TV appearances, online sessions and music videos. But don’t expect to find many new, groundbreaking performances. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” is the same song whether it’s performed on Conan, on AOL or in a large concert hall. The lack of improvisation in their live shows hurts the cause even more; MCR is more robotic onstage than Tommy Lee’s drum-riser. You’re not OK, great, we get it.

Life on the Murder Scene feels like a recap of any failing band’s 20-year spiral into hell. My Chemical Romance makes the journey in just four dismal years. Maybe they know their demise is ahead. Hard to believe, though, when so many more lives need to be saved.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

My Chemical Romance
Life on the Murder Scene
Reprise

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