VARIOUS ARTISTS - In Defence Of Rock II
I'm afraid that I start repeating myself, but with every new Winged Skull compilation, the guys improve with a 100%. Their first, half-official (and never reviewed here) compilation was an exercise in crap, with lots of rehearsal recordings that you wouldn't even make your enemies listen to. OK, some of it has cult status now, as it showed young local bands in their very beginnings, but let's proceed. Tales From The Winged Skull (2003) came in a professional layout, with only professionally recorded bands, even if some of the content was still rather basic. In Defence Of Rock (2004) introduced for the first time the Winged Skull label colours black, pink and white, establishing an aesthetic code that also mirrored the progress the local scene was going through.
This year, the bands have again become better – this is the advantage of a relatively young independent scene – and instead of just making it another compilation CD, Winged Skull got together with the German Fond Of Life label to make it a double CD compilation, clocking in at nearly two and a half hours with 43 songs, 20 of them being from local bands, and 15 of those again having been previously unreleased, which is – as far as I can remember – something we have never had before. These songs alone already justify the purchase of this low-price release (8 Euros). But to make the compilation also interesting for people outside the influence of Winged Skull (Luxembourg) and Fond Of Life (Saarland/Germany), there are songs from more popular bands like Anti-Flag (with an as yet unreleased live version of "Mumia's Song"), Leatherface, The Briefs and The Lawrence Arms.
On the previous compilation, the bands were featured alphabetically, making it not always easy to listen, being thrown from a mellow indie song to fiercest metal core, which is why this time there is more of a line, starting with the more extreme kinds of hardcore (screamo, metalcore, spazzcore,...), then partly midway in the first CD, the emphasis is put to more melodic (street) punk songs. The second CD starts likewise, but after a couple of songs heads into a short 5-song ska intermezzo, before giving us again earthy punk just to finish with a couple of slower, more melodic songs. A strange fact is that the compilation starts with nine local bands and ends with five local bands, having most of the foreign stuff in between.
As perfect as this very affordable double-CD compilation is, there is still room for one complaint. I understand that if you want to sell such a fat album for such a low price, that you can't add a thick booklet, but they could have added at least a CD-ROM track with information of the featured bands. As things are, we are left with website or email addresses, and I doubt that many people will visit all of these sites. OK, I know there has gone a tremendous amount of work into In Defence Of Rock II, but this little added information (which would not have cost much probably) would have made this one flawless compilation.
I don't feel like going into details, you might as well look it up at the Winged Skull website where you also can download a couple of the songs from the compilation. People who made it to the release party probably bought the CD already but if you haven't, I suggest you better get it quickly because you won't get a more complete look at the local, regional (and partly international) music scene.