Various Artists â€“ Black Snow 2
Released: November 12, 2010
Label: Black Rain Media Group (Not to be confused with Black Rain Recordsâ€”trust me)
Review by William Dashiell Hammett
Black Snow 2, advertised as â€œa completely different Xmas compilationâ€, is most assuredly not your ordinary compilation. A mix of Darkwave, EMB, Electro and industrial rock/metal songs, youâ€™d perhaps expect something loud and shocking, an in-your-face anti-Christian/anti-commercialization protest disc.Â At the very least, youâ€™d expect something to make you laugh seeing your grandmaâ€™s face when you sneak it into the mix for your familyâ€™s holiday gathering.Â Â For the most part, this is thankfully not the case.
The French trio Black Rain Media Group opens the compilation with an extremely speedy and deceptively upbeat song, called â€œFragment 25â€.Â That it contains undertones of anti-commercialization and loneliness is only apparent from a detailed listening to the lyrics.
The equally upbeat sounding â€œTanz Den Weihnachtsmannâ€ (German for â€œThe Christmas Danceâ€) by killedbycandy (the solo project of Sid van Sin of the Pussybats) is the second track on this disc.Â Sung in German, it starts with a simple Electro beat and synth bass line before building up in to a cheerful little melody by the first chorus.
OnÂ â€œSanta Babyâ€, preformed by Electro Xcentric (the new musical project by ex-Killing Ophelia vocalist Karen King), there is definitely the attempt to capture the seductiveness of the myriad of versions preformed by everyone from Eartha Kitt to Madonna to Taylor Swift, but it doesnâ€™t quite succeed.Â The song opens with an excessively long sample that doesnâ€™t really seem to serve a purpose.Â The simplicity of the music is a plus but the vocals drown out most everything except for the beat.
â€œAngels We Have Heard On Highâ€ preformed by Psyborg Corp is next and is one of the more interesting interpretations of a traditional holiday song as well as being one of the more interesting tracks on this album.Â The heavy synth lines and beat got me moving, but for me the vocals, except for the female vocals during the bridge, were bit too far back in the mix.
Next on the CD, is â€œWeisse Weihnachtâ€ (German for White Christmas) performed by the German EBM band Tyske Ludder.Â I cannot officially speak for Irving Berlin or Bing Crosby, but Iâ€™m sure both would be horrified by this version of their classic song, but I found it to be quite an amusing track.Â The almost bubbly vocals stand out perfectly with the music and singing in German works with the musical interpretation.
â€œBloody Christmasâ€ by Digital Factor comes next and, except for the title and some vocal intonations, is another song deceptive in its cheerfulness.Â The song itself could easily be played and be at home on a dance floor.Â Follows is an instrumental version of â€œSilent Nightâ€ performed by Nude that starts off in a rather depressing manner before picking up with the addition of a high-energy beat.
Starting with the statement that â€œChristmas is cancelled, Mother Fuckerâ€, Antichristmas preformed by CeDigest, is the first overtly anti-Christmas song on the album.Â It is also easily the heaviest industrial song to be included on this compilation as well.Â With lyrics almost seemingly designed to shock, the music from this United Kingdom based septet is dark and aggressive.Â A little too effects laden for my personal taste; it is an interesting song and flows well.
â€œIt Happened On Christmas Dayâ€ by Leather Strip is a downright evil song.Â Starting with a simple almost folk music intro, the moment Claus Larsenâ€™s Danish voice joins any impression that this song will be in tune with the holiday spirit is completely obliterated.Â The dichotomy between the music and the lyrics and the visualizations created by the story told, easily made this one of my favorite songs on the disc.
â€œWinter In My Heartâ€ by Atomic Neon is next and is a bit of a let down after the stellar song that proceeded it.Â Claiming to be from another galaxy, the Essen Germany based bandâ€™s vocalist sounds like a depressed early era Robert Smith but less dynamic.Â Needing to give each song an equal hearing as part of my job, it was quite to resist the urge to click the skip button.
â€œEs Ist Ein Ros Entsprungenâ€ (German for â€œLo, How a Rose Eâ€™er Bloomingâ€) by Phoenix Arizona based Goth act Reliquary is probably the most traditional sounding, as well as most traditional in fact, holiday song on the album.Â The use of traditional instruments and the synth and samples work quite well.Â However, the vocals do seem to get a little overwhelmed towards the end of the track.
The final track on the album is a cover of the song â€œThe Impossible Dreamâ€ from the musical play Man of La Mancha, by the German duo Feindflug, who are also the force behind Black Rain Media.Â Sara Noxx provides the vocals and her voice work perfectly with the martial sounding music.Â I have no idea what association with the Christmas holiday the song is supposed to have but as the last song on the album it does a perfect job in leaving you wanting more.
Overall, this compilation ranges over a wide variety of styles and emotions and for that it should be commended.Â However, other then being something you mix in with the normal holiday music for a lark, there really isnâ€™t much point.
Included on the physical CD release, but not available on the promo copy I received, are the videos of Dandelion Wine â€œI want a Hippopotamus for Christmasâ€ and The Pussybats â€œA Wishâ€. Both of these songs were featured on last yearâ€™s Christmas compilation from Black Rain Black Snow.