Various Artists Killed By Deathrock Vol. 2 Sacred Bones
Killed By Deathrock Vol. II picks up Vol. I’s initial mission: to drag forgotten treasures of horror-inflicted punk from the past and into the grim depths of the present, where a new generation of creeps may hear them. These compilations, curated by Sacred Bones Records founder Caleb Braaten, offer an introduction to the 80s obsession with deathrock: punk rock with a slant towards the spooky.
Far from a lengthy, homogenous haunted house of creaky floorboards and disembodied howls, a new listener will be thrilled (or should that be chilled?) by the album’s sparks of excitement from all corners of new wave, dark wave and goth-trimmed punk. The compilation also offers a variety of ways to identify with this curious sub-genre. Red Temple Spirits’ lofty 1988 post-punk jangle Dark Spirits pleads with God himself, while Red Zebra’s I Can’t Live In A Living Room, recorded in 1980, is all agoraphobic new wave angst set in a doctor’s office. While Flowers For Agatha’s Freedom Curse is fey, dreamy, and apologetically peers in the abyss of emotional loss, Skeletal Family’s Promised Land flips two fingers up in defiance of society with a teen-told tale of fleeting romance.
Despite the variety on offer, there are reoccurring musical signatures here. Shards of needling guitar fall often around endlessly echoed keyboards, and the majority of vocals are delivered with a curled lip and a vaguely disgusted shrug. As much as the protagonists would have you believe it’s all downhill from here, by creating such a cohesive and enjoyable compilation, curator Braaten has ensured that the legacy of deathrock is very much alive.