It's almost a rule that bands mellow as they age. Time often tempers the raucous spirit, in a show of "maturity" that's just as often welcome as it is tedious. With German neofolk outfit Neun Welten, however, they've gone the opposite route on The Sea I'm Diving In, their first full-length in eight years. Instead of treading familiar waters, they've upped the ante by fusing their traditionally tense and gripping acoustic sensibilities with sparse yet urgent strains of rock music that add serious depth and lyrics in English, presumably for universal understanding. This isn't a case quite on par with Bob Dylan going electric per se, it's more of a band adding a few components to augment their somber, ethereal sound.
"The Sea I'm Diving In is packed with lots of new interpretations of love, death and nature. Musically, it combines many different genres to create something completely new while keeping our spirit. We'd like everyone who listens to this album to dive really deep and hold your breath until the last note" the band said in a statement to Noisey.
From the very start, "Drowning" offers up the album's title in its sorrowful lyrics but pairs it with shimmering violin. It doesn't hurt that the The Sea I'm Diving In boasts a production nearly cinematic in scope, driven to best effects on songs like the slow growth of "Nocturnal Rhymes" and the blissful yet all too brief "Earth Vein." The arrangements are so carefully, masterfully layered that Neun Welten manages to create a sense of majesty without burdening the listener under blankets of heavy sound. It's the breath between notes, the slight crackle around the edges, and the subtlety of the electric elements that really allows this album to flourish. For those who feel neofolk is often just a bit too unplugged (or for those who can't get enough sadness), The Sea I'm Diving In hits all the right notes without ever feeling contrived.
To prepare for the album's release tomorrow, Noisey's hosting a full stream below. Listen now and enjoy Neun Welten's natural progression deeper into darker waters.
Ben Handelman is diving in on Twitter.