Liner Note Author: Mike Hunchback.
Following Sacred Bones' first Killed by Deathrock compilation of post-punk/goth rarities, released in 2014, the label produced a second volume in 2016. As with the first one, the sequel consists of tracks issued on obscure vinyl or cassette releases sometime during the 1980s, and only the most hardcore devotees of post-punk will be familiar with most of these acts before listening. Most of the tracks lean toward the punk-influenced side, with tense, driving rhythms and shouted vocals on a few occasions. Opening cut "Spectator" by Danish band Gatecrashers is a frenetic cross between dark punk and '60s garage rock, with a wild electric organ blaring away along with the furious drums and vocals. Fellow Danes ADS seem to take more inspiration from '70s punk on their cult classic single "Waiting for the War," but there's enough coldness (and clanging metal percussion) for them to fit into the deathrock equation. Flowers for Agatha's "The Freedom Curse" breaks away from the punk aggression and political paranoia for a more tender, reflective, and poignant six minutes. Crank Call Love Affair's "What's Wrong Yvette" sounds a lot closer to 99 Records dance-punk than deathrock, with shuffling disco drums, a stiff but funky bassline, and worried vocals. If it were intended to be a dancefloor track, it would've been mixed a lot differently; the drums are distant and shadowy, and the bass isn't heavy and up-front. The chilly synth becomes more prominent near the end of the song, as the singer sounds more concerned about Yvette. Belgium's Red Zebra (one of the most prolific bands on the compilation, along with Skeletal Family) are represented by "I Can't Live in a Living Room," which is twitchy, angular, and nervous, but also exhibits the slightest bit of a sense of humor. By far the most devastating inclusion, however, is the set's final selection, "Hade" by Vita Noctis. The song is essentially a cassette-recorded demo, and it's so primitive that it sounds like it was composed on a toy keyboard. The song maintains its slow Casio pulse, but it builds up until vocalist Martine Genijn is yelling "I hate you!," and while she doesn't have the strongest voice and the music itself is quite thin and plastic, it ends up being a lot harsher than it would seem. The track previously appeared on Against the Rule, Dark Entries' 2011 double LP anthology of Vita Noctis' complete works, and the release prompted the band to reunite and record a new album. As with the first volume, Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 2 is loaded with gems that will hopefully inspire similar rediscoveries. ~ Paul Simpson