Review Summary: Beauty within the dark blue void
What a gorgeous isolation this is… I think I’ll stay here for a while…
Like a slow descent through an abyss, Neun Welten’s latest effort is shrouded in mystery and darkness. Given the eight-year gap since Destrunken
, it’s not surprising the German dark folk group have crafted a very different kind of monster this time around. The Sea I’m Diving In
feels much more theatrical than their past works; it’s what I’d imagine an album would sound like if Finland’s Tenhi collaborated with Ulver for a concept album born from the depths of the ocean. In other words: it’s vast, elegantly experimental, and cool as hell.
Recorded by film composer Matthias Raue, The Sea I’m Diving In
takes Neun Welten’s trademark sound and adds elements of post-rock with a focus on cinematic storytelling; the result is the band’s most unexpected, abstract record to date. Unlike past efforts, it contains English vocals, but they carry the same sense of yearning and despair as they did before. However, there are also ominous, near-indecipherable lyrics and more than enough sonic riddles to keep the listener guessing throughout the gloomy journey. It’s this constant sense of exploration that gives The Sea I’m Diving In
such a magnetic pull – always urging the listener to press on through the unknown.
The album’s first real treasure is “The Dying Swan”, a dark ambient track with acoustic guitars and warm synths that share some similar traits with Agalloch’s Ashes Against the Grain
. In between each section of chanty vocals and poignant strings are waves of euphoric ambience that hit with the weight of a riptide. Speaking of strings and such, the classical touches throughout this bad boy are a real treat to the ears. With the additional talents of violinist Aline Deinert of Empyrium and Niko Knappe of Dark Suns, the album gets that special, added spark. “Cursed” is a fine example of this: a minimalistic concoction of delicate pianos, weeping violins, and – of course – that lovely acoustic guitar. However, nothing can touch “Lorn”, a track that constantly builds towards something completely majestic – and man, does it reach some towering heights. Though the song starts out slow-paced, you’ll soon be completely overcome by its compelling drumming and a widely-encompassing atmosphere that’s not unlike a well-done black metal track.
For an album centered around a sense of desolation in an immense sea, there’s an awful lot of beauty to be discovered within its domain. The more magical moments are nice little soundscapes that wash away all your daily pains and anxieties; standout track “Lorn” does so with its carefully-picked guitars and haunting synths, while “Earth Vein” uses a more classical, operatic approach involving rather enticing female vocals. Whichever method Neun Welten choose to run with, each track carries a vast, brooding undertow – always seeming to replicate the ocean’s endless reaches. For fans of dark folk, post-rock, or even film scores, Neun Welten’s enthralling return has enough mystery and pizazz to keep you coming back for more. And the more you listen to it, the more The Sea I'm Diving In
reveals the story of someone trapped in the confines of an endless ocean. The scenery is eerily murky, but -- like many effective albums of this nature -- there’s an undeniable beauty behind each note of melancholy. Whether you come up for air, or you allow yourself to become hopelessly lost beneath the blackened waves, is entirely up to you.
I’m still here… I could get used to this darkness…