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.
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