KAELTE: Alle Teufel Sind Blutsbrüder
Release year: 2022
German Kaelte, whose previous release Lieblingslieder (a compilation of older tracks) we reviewed last year (read here) are back with another slipcase CD release: this time four new tracks of their brand of German neofolk.
It has to be said, in this more compact format – four tracks and just under twenty minutes vs. 16 songs and 71 minutes – it’s easier to see everything Kaelte does right. 71 minutes was just too much!
By and large, Kaelte haven’t renewed or reinvented their sound too much. This is pretty traditional, even old school neofolk: acoustic guitar in the centre, supported by synths and martial drums. Ever since the inception of the genre, this has been the blueprint of neofolk, and Kaelte don’t aspire to forge a new path.
But no need to, either: in their traditionalist take on neofolk, the duo of Sven Martin, who handles all instruments and the lead vocals, and Franziska Martin who provides backing vocals, have created an entirely competent EP. As is typical of the genre, a certain melancholy permeates the entire thing, and especially the background synths add echoes of sorrow, loss and mourning to the mix. Sven Martin’s somewhat subdued, understated vocals mirror the same emotional states.
But it’s not really doom and gloom as such: a track like Wolfsmond is replete with the mysticism of desolate woodlands, and Fernes Land with the tranquillity of solitude. The melancholia is balanced by a sense of serenity.
The centrepiece on the EP is without doubt the title track, also released as a video. Its chorus is infectiuously catchy – you’ll find yourself humming it all the time. The other three tracks are quite fine, too, but ultimately play second fiddle to the title track.
It seems to me that, in comparison to the material on Lieblingslieder, the arrangements are a bit more fleshed out, especially the synths in the background and Franziska’s background vocals. This works for the benefit of Alle Teufel Sind Blutsbrüder: it feels more mature, more atmospheric and deeper than older material. In other words, a step forward.
This EP only strenghtens my conviction in what I said about Lieblingslieder: there’s no quality-related reason why Kaelte are such unknown proponents of traditional German neofolk. Yes, they may still have a ways to go before they’re hot on the heels fo genre stalwarts like Darkwood, but as this EP proves, they’re certainly worth giving the time of day.
You know, my only real complain is the cardboard slipcase this CD is packaged in. The corners get bent so easily. If only it were a digipak or a jewelcase. And if that’s my only complaint – well, things are pretty good for Kaelte.