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This german based label was originally formed as early as 1998.  Like many independant labels of the time, the founder was disappointed in the music scene and so the label was started.  Black Rain is the main label with a number of great bands on their roster including davaNtage, Feindflug, This Vale of Tears and others.  After a couple of years in 2000, the first sub-label Noitekk was formed featuring the harsh industrial bands to be released.  Bands on this sub-label include Aslan Faction, Grendel and others.  This sub-label was followed by the dark folk branch Ars Musica Difundere and most recently the experimental sounds of Funkwelten, yet another sub-label.

The slogan for the label is "Quality not Quantity" and the motto is "Music is our Passion".  As evidenced by the different sub-labels and broad range of artists, the managers are open to the various dark music genres of folk, gothic, industrial, EBM and various electronic musical styles.  Through this broad range there is definitely something here that listeners and readers will recognize.  We look forward to many more years of excellent releases through all genres presented.

Black Snow - Review

Just in time for Christmas 2009 we have this completely different compilation of great goth / industrial bands from this label performing their take on holiday songs. The disc comes packed with 16 tracks ranging from the harsh industrial and noise to the soft, somber folk and gothic sounds. With a broad range we have plenty to choose from, though not all tracks will please everyone, some tracks will really captivate fans based on their own taste.

I would never have imagined a band like Feindflug appearing on a Christmas compilation, much less doing something melodic and dreamy to match the magical holiday moods. These masters of militaristic power noise put aside their edge and bring out "Wintergedanken", a beautiful instrumental which even feature the jolly old Santa Claus at the end. Switching gears to include some very festive pieces and others where artists just had fun, we have the jewish Hannukah piece "Hava Nagila" from Hioctan and the ever creative Dandelion Wine bring out the old-style (1950's) tracks with "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", done in their own trademark style.

As with most compilations, especially those that cover such a broad range of genres you get the good with the bad. I love Christmas, the joy and magic in the air, the fun and time with friends and family. So the songs that I enjoy are those that accent or enhance that magical air. The aforementioned "Wintergedanken" is a perfect addition to my holiday music collection. Some of the sadder, more reflective tracks like "Cinnamon" from killedbycandy also are fitting in their own way as well as the extremely melancholy piece "We die at Christmas (Rio Black Mix)" from Atomic Neon. These moodier tracks are perfect for the gothic fans around this time of year. One of my favorite bands from this label, Novalis Deux appear with "Halleluja" along these lines of the folk style, with melancholy tones and moods, while this piece isn't really one I would have expected on a Christmas compilation, it blends well with the album and features rare female vocals, awesome piano and their solid folk sound. As the album starts to wind down we have another stellar, mostly instrumental piece in "Tausend Sterne sind ein Dom" from Plane to Pia. This piece features the foundation of Pachabel's "Canon in D", with spellbinding variations and some spoken word in german, all including some heavy electronics, yet remaining dreamy and almost ethereal for a very nice touch and addition to this compilation.

Now having said all that, we still have some fun, upbeat pieces to highlight. About halfway through the album we're treated a pure electronic piece from Oil10 with "Christmas Machine". This is a fun electro track that features vocoded robotic vocals repeated through much of the song, highlighted by spatialized synths and heavy electronics. One piece you definitely have to be in the mood for is "Little Drummer Boy" from DyM done in heavy powernoise fashion, probably the perfect cover for this this project to do for their heavy noise style. The album really has a lot of varied material and after highs and lows with heavy industrial and somber folk we finally wrap it up with The Pussybats and their exclusive piece "A Wish" which is a nice soft gothic piece to finalize the album.

Rating: 3/5

A Compilation 3 - Review

Here is the latest in a series of label samplers from the Black Rain media group featuring selections from the latest releases from their various labels. Presented in much the way the previous sampler was in a double-disc cardboard package, we get a great taste of the latest works available from these labels. The genres span everything from dark folk, gothic rock and heavy on the industrial end with a total of 28 tracks.

On the first disc we're treated with the broad range of music from the ethereal and neo/dark folk bands through the gothic rock and even a bit of industrial and experimental. This disc gives us a taste of the broad range of great music that is currently available from these bands. Dandelion Wine kick it off with their unique experimental ethereal yet moving experimental semi-goth sound. This moves seamlessly through a selection from a long popular dark wave band Rise and Fall of a Decade with "In The Time When". This piece portrays their more upbeat trip-hop sound and shows once again how diverse this band can be and why they still remain solid in the heavenly voices arena. Novalis Deux bring on their solid folk sound with "Passing By" which shows why they remain a favorite here on Gothic Paradise. Each band brings something excellent and while every compilation has it's ups and downs the selection here is excellent as we continue on through captivating pieces by Killing Ophelia, The Pussybats, Jesus & the Gurus and Reliquary. The mix of these bands is well done, not sure if it was put together this way on purpose, but as we move through this group of gothic rock and electro-goth bands the sound is solid and moving built on the classic structure of goth rock from the 80's and 90's. This brings us to another favorite with the newly signed spanish band Narsilion with "Desperta Ferro" from their latest album. This particular piece shows the more militaristic folk sound that is reminiscent of their side project Der Blaue Reiter mixed with the folk sounds of Dies Natalis with a touch of fantasy and fairy world music mixed in. Among other favorites we have the excellent piece "Escher" from Brillig which listeners and readers here shoudl be well familiar with by now from their earlier maxi. And finaly, amidst the other experimental and goth sounds we have one of the best industrial pieces in some time with "Bring on the Dying" from Aslan Faction. While this track is quite typical electro-industrial, the structure of synths and loops and backing female vox really seem to add a lot to this solid pounding piece.

With Aslan Faction finishing off the first disc (followed by the experimental piece "To Die For A Lie" by OTX), the stage is set for the onslaught of harsh-hitting industrial mayhem that is CD2 of this compilation. As I first perused the tracklist I realized I already have most of the albums from this disc and so I knew I was in for a harsh ride ahead as I sat down and started listening. Overall, most pieces are composed of hard-driving electronics with harsh distorted vocals while there are a few exceptions. Even amidst all of this seemingly homogenous sound, there are still a few pieces that seem to stand out slightly in style and quality besides the already mentioned piece by Aslan Faction. C-Drone-Defect does a good job of bringing this overused harsh industrial style together into something a little different yet still accessible and moving on "Morituri Te Salutant". Most readers and listeners should be familiar with IWR and their piece "Ketamine Sedation" with the trance-laiden industrial sound with a mix of harsh whispered and smooth female vocals. However, I think from this disc Prospective from the new Firezone sub-label really stands out the most. With melodic female-fronted vocals we have something along the lines of hard-hitting industrial in much the style of 80's band Propaganda. The heavy distorted industrial music really carries the crisp, clear melodic vocals on this piece showing that you can have great industrial without always using the harsh, distorted gasping vocals. We have fairly standard selections from Tyske Ludder, Dawn of Ashes and Distorted Memory, but you can always detect Feindflug with their militaristic industrial power noise sound making "ERsatzteil" sound much like every other track they've ever released, good, but still the same. Vigilante and the kick off piece by Jabberwock also stand out in style with their vocals and musical style being something more like industrial metal, though I think you really have to be in a certain insane mood to actually sit and listen to these two pieces. And finally The Panic Lift and extremely in-your-face harsh piece "Light Extinguished" from Xentrifuge wrap up this disc in solid, harsh, industrial style.

If you survive this second disc with eardrums or brain cells intact, then you can know that you stand out as a true harsh industrial fan and stand out from the crowd. While I enjoy several selections, just the constant onslaught makes it slightly unbearable to sit down and listen to all in one sitting, but with a piece here and there such as present on the Gothic Paradise club mix, then it's actually more of an accent to our group of goth-industrial related genres from time to time. So take it as you like, but this double-disc is a great way to get a really good taste of a broad range of bands on this group of labels for a budget price, check it out and then find your favorite artists and go pick up their albums.

Rating: 3.5/5

A Compilation 2 - Review

This label (and sub-labels) release such a great broad range of music and this latest budget-priced label sampler just shows how excellent the cross-section in artists and genres are. Presented in a double-disc cardboard package, it contains 28 track spanning pretty much all of the groups that are currently active with this label.  Disc 1 contains the hard-hitting EBM and Industrial bands while Disc 2 delves into the more melodic, gothic and folk acts with a little electro mixed in as well.

Let's start with the first disc which kicks off immediately with some of the harshest, pounding EBM/Industrial music we've been presented with lately.  Fans of this really harsh music with the distorted vocals will enjoy this first disc with artists like Die Sektor, Life Cried and Psyclon Nine.  However, one thing I would mention is how saturated and how homogenous these genres have become, because even though it's four different groups, the vocals (if you can call them vocals) all use identical distortion, with that style of someone gargling gasoline and yelling as harsh and angrily as possible.  The pounding beats and powerful electronics are excellent, but it really gets old listening to the same unintelligible gasping vocals track after track.  We really don't get much of a break from this throughout this entire first disc except for a little variance with Tyske Ludder that uses "growling" vocals more than the "rasping" distortions.  And then of course we have the instrumental piece from Feindflug with their military german power-noise style.  Supreme Court and Violent Entity are other groups that vary slightly away from the rasping distorted vocals, yet all music remains powerful and full of driving electronics, so it's really up to the reader/listener if you're up for an onslaught of distorted vocals mixed with these hard-hitting electronics.

While I love the fast-paced, club-friendly Industrial and EBM styles, with the latest saturation of so many groups sounding so identical, it's a real treat to have this second disc with the melodic gothic, darkwave, folk and different electronic music styles.  One of my latest favorite bands along these lines is Novalis Deux, and they launch this second disc with their upbeat track "When Darkness Falls".  Slight synths mixed with acoustic guitars and german-accented english vocals mixed between male and female is an excellent mix and on this piece they actually present a moving rhythm unlike most of their tracks which most darkwave or folk fans will enjoy.  Other excellent and well-known bands in these melodic goth-related genres include Rise and Fall of a Decade, Killing Ophelia and Kutna Hora.  Hopefully every reader that comes through this site will be very familiar with one of the newest signings to this label, that of Narsilion hailing from Spain and bringing to us one of the most beautiful and emotionally driving fantasy, ethereal music around today.  We're presented with a special treat "Enmig Del Silenci" which is a selection from their upcoming album.  For those familiar with their sound, this selection continues on in much the same fashion as their previous works, delving into the angelic, uplifting ethereal music that takes the listener straight into a fantasy dreamworld.  The lovely instrumental piece "Carbon Figures Pt. 7" was a very nice pleasant surprise for this album and quickly became a favorite of mine.  I was also very pleased with Brillig which is a new band to me that uses gothic styles along the lines of Gene Loves Jezebel, though presented with a mix of male and soothing female vocals over a nice gothic backdrop of guitars and a steady beat.  Lamia also brought a pleasant surprise with their electronic piece "Laudemus Virginem which fans of Qntal and Die Form can appreciate.

That pretty much sums it up in a couple of paragraphs.  This is an excellent, cheap way to get some of the latest music this label has released.  From their broad range of artists and genres, I'm sure that anyone that were to pick up this album should find several groups that will be new favorites if not already.  At the very least it's a great cross-section of what is available out there in our related goth-industrial genres.

Rating: 3.5/5

Different DVD - Review

I was excited to hear about another DVD release featuring more music from so many of the bands that I've grown to enjoy over the years. The range of the videos and bands presented span all the different sub-labels of Black Rain including 17 videos, bonus features including band galleries, label gallery and extra footage from festivals and concerts over the past few years.

I was slightly disappointed in the amount of live videos presented vs. actual video clips.  Live performances have become too much the norm in our genres and seem to be just a cheap way to get videos out to the masses with little effort besides being able to perform live in front of a camera.  Don't get me wrong, most of the live performances are enjoyable and well-filmed with good sound quality.  But compared to an actual video clip or mini movie that were more prominent through the 80's and early 90's, they just don't measure up.  These clips are a chance for the band to really present imagery behind their music and live performances as videos fall short of being at the show or the possibilities that music videos present.

With that said, there are some good clips including Amateur God and a video of "Openmindead" in all of it's dark imagery.  Most of the bands give some good live performances as shown by these videos including Feindflug, Grendel, Novalis Deux, Supreme Court and others that would otherwise be a rare performance outside of Europe.  Fans will enjoy this DVD for these facts alone.

Rating: 3.5/5

Website: www.blackrain.de

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