Chelsea Wolfe’s most chilling performance yet.
Label: Sargent House
Released: 22nd September 2017
Chelsea Wolfe’s fifth album ‘Abyss’ was the sonic equivalent of tying an anvil to your ankle and wading up to your neck into a pit of tar. The density and dread that it instilled elevated the singer-songwriter from a gothic folk siren to an unlikely hero of the extreme metal scene.
Part of Wolfe’s allure is her sense of mystique, but through Abyss’ pitch-dark successor, the Californian seeks to become more introspective in her art. Inspired by American writer Henry Miller’s ‘idiot with a can opener’ proverb, what ensues is a slow-burning and suspenseful cathartic release.
Recording with Converge’s Kurt Ballou in his native Salem, Massachusetts in the midst of winter, there’s something more cinematic to ‘Hiss Spun’ than Wolfe’s previous works. Her cooing on ‘Spun’ and honey-smooth drawl on ’16 Psyche’ contrast magnificently with droning chords and thundering drums. The latter of the two tracks features one of many masterful contributions to this album by Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, shortly before the industrial throb of ‘Vex’ is made all the more nightmarish when Old Man Gloom vocalist Aaron Turner makes a guttural and frankly terrifying appearance.
Despite the plethora of guests and the handiwork of Ballou – arguably the greatest producer in contemporary heavy music – this record is inevitably Wolfe’s for the taking. Against Salem’s backdrop of biting northeastern cold, she writhes hypnotically through bursts of doom-laden noise on ‘Scrape’ and ‘The Culling’, purging demons from her body to give her most chilling performance yet.
Even with six albums under her belt, Chelsea Wolfe is an enigma which is only just starting to slowly unravel. In bearing substantially more than usual on ‘Hiss Spun’, she is empowered and all the more enchanting. Danny Randon