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Album Of The Month October 2015
Chelsea Wolfe | ‘Abyss’


Some albums are so good, you feel it in your very bones the second you play them.

It is obvious with these albums: they hit so hard, so fast, that they need no convincing and no explanation.

They’re just self evidently incredible. This is one of them.

Albums like ‘Abyss’ are a very, very rare quantity.

They are the very essence of intensity, of power and of the true musician realizing themselves. Even getting to hear this music seems a privilege of some sort.

So, So Dark

Chelsea Wolfe has not been brilliant heretofore. She’s been more or less alright. This, however, is on a whole other level.

It is so, so dark.

Right from the pulsating start of ‘Carrion Flowers’, with that almost worming, Nine Inch Nails or Godflesh-esque biomech feel, she makes clear that this is her album. Her absolute personal statement.

Do not for a second suppose that because this isn’t metal (as such) that it’s somehow irrelevant to your interests.

This is Boris, Swans / Jarboe, Godflesh, Rose Kemp, Earth… it is so much.

Gothicana

Yet mostly it is P.J. Harvey.

Chelsea Wolfe has clearly absorbed much from PJ’s masterpiece ‘White Chalk’, if not so much more. It has that same small ‘g’ gothicana in it.

And there certainly is heaviness to be had here. ‘Iron Moon’ has the digi-fuzzed slam and pound of Type O Negative – if it isn’t directly inspired by ‘October Rust’ I have no idea what is.

‘Dragged Out’ sounds simply bewitched, with Chelsea modulating her voice in it absolutely fantastically.

‘Grey Days’ is anthemic, borrowing heavily from Atoms For Peace in my estimation – something about that drumbeat and those bass notes recalls ‘Default’ or ‘Ingenue’; indeed the very sparse simplicity of the whole thing speaks to that influence as well.

It isn’t even the best track. That massive accolade, considering this is an album of unarguable standouts, goes to the utterly fucking eerie ‘After The Fall’.

It is an absolute exemplar of dark electro-manipulation done to bone chilling effect, setting off a pummeling chorus that allows Wolfe’s vocal to sound lost and pained.

Colour Of Blood

I could go on at length.

‘Survive’, with its windswept expanse and descent into black acoustica sounds utterly pained.

‘Colour Of Blood’ and ‘The Abyss’ both bring back the Nine Inch Nails vibes for ghostly finishers.

It’s just an absolutely incredible album. It seems impossible that she could ever top it, in this format at least – the marriage of dark, gothic, electro, grunge and metal is so beautifully poised as to be almost perfect.

There can be little doubt that this is one of my own contenders for album of the year, let alone album of this month of October.

Beg, borrow, steal to hear it, and for goodness sake, own it.

Its eerie brilliance will not tire.

5/5 – Earl Grey ::: 19/10/15



19 Comments
  1. Absolutely fantastic album!
    Anyone wanting to catch her live, she’s playing in The Button Factory on Wednesday 25 November. Can’t wait!!!

  2. justincredible Says:

    I’ve been meaning to get this album because of what I’ve heard from it so far has impressed immensely.
    I’d love to go to that show in The Button Factory but weekday shows are a ballbreaker for work the next day.

  3. Great review and an album that’s on my list. Anything I’ve heard as been excellent.

  4. nazgulbrian Says:

    Her acoustic mini album was very enjoyable, as was the darker more experimental third full length. This one takes the sound she’s been known to toy with since her debut and really hones it in throughout. Probably her most enjoyable and focussed album yet. Definitely will be in my top picks of then year at this rate, including any metal or non metal album I’ve heard so far.

  5. I’m getting a bit of an anathema buzz off that tune

  6. @Drummo

    Thanks for that, will defo be hitting it now.

  7. thats excellent

  8. justincredible Says:

    Diddys.

  9. Have it spinning now, it is a cracker alright.

  10. An artist I’ve never had the interest in checking out before but on the back of the review said I’d give it a listen. Wow it’s amazing stuff. Been listening to the album on the bandcamp and it is great. What other album of hers is worth checking out? Work my way backwards from here?

  11. Been a fan for a couple of years then stopped listening for no real reason. Went back for this album after catching this review by chance. What an absolute treat. Between this and listening to Melana Chasmata a lot, I’m in a black abyss of joy! 😀 YAY!

  12. pentagrimes Says:

    @Panopticon – Apokalypsis is great

  13. @dc

    Most welcome! 🙂

  14. Eoin McLove Says:

    Anything I listened to by her before bored me but the song above is cool.

  15. Listening to this on Spotify just now, it really is excellent. Couldn’t get into the earlier stuff but very impressed with Abyss.

  16. Indeed Abyss is a contender for album of the year. Check out her last album ‘Pain is Beauty’ and also make sure you hear her song ‘Flatlands’ from the album before that. It’s a lot quieter than Abyss but is truly stunning. If you can, get to see her live in November.

  17. @Pentagrimes – cheers will check it out

  18. Just out of curiousity, does she have a really severe lisp? Each time I hear the verse at the end of ‘Color Of Blood’ it keeps jumping out at me. Sounds like she’s singing with her mouth stuffed full of cotton wool.

  19. Getting a Radiohead vibe

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