This ‘Chelsea Wolfe’ article was written by Lorna Gray, a GIGsoup contributor
Since the beginning of her musical career, L.A-based singer songwriter Chelsea Wolfe has had an obvious flirtation with the metal genre. With a back catalogue that includes a cover of black-metal star Burzam and contributions to American post-metal band Russian Circles, it’s no surprise that her compound of metal and folk has a large metal following. This flirtation with the genre has developed into a lascivious fling in her most recent record Abyss – with dirty, drones of guitar and heavy drums juxtaposed with orchestral piano and strings under Wolfe’s enchanting, siren-esque vocals – there’s the incredible creation of an uncomfortable yet enticing sound.
Album opener Carrion Flowers immediately sets the dark and eerie tones of the record. Crescendos of distorted guitar followed by sections of silence create a truly unique introduction before Wolfe’s voice is dripped over, composing an almost oxymoronic folk and doom combination. The following track Iron Moon maintains the dark and gothic tones with thrashing guitar and drum beats typical of the heavy metal genre mixed with Wolfe’s soft and almost operatic voice. The tempo is raised in Grey Days with a driving drumbeat serving as a classic rock introduction accompanied by a therapeutically repetitive guitar riff and Wolfe’s unmistakable choir-like voice.
Although it’s clear that the album is dominated by metal and rock, elements of the musician’s folk roots can be heard creeping in; Maw brings the soft sound of piano accompanied by twangs of industrial guitar. While Crazy Love follows the structure of a typical folk song, with chords that compliment each other as well as charming fret clambers and a screeching sound of violin, these tracks offer a raw and clean version of what Wolfe is capable of. This allows the listener to wander into a false sense of security in relatively easy-to-listen-to and more traditional songs before once again submerging you into what can only be described as a deep and dark abyss of noise with Colour of Blood – it’s clear where the concept for the album title came from.
With the inspiration of the album coming from Wolfe’s own struggle with sleep paralysis and dreams of the afterlife, the lyrics, sung in such a haunting way, compliment the eeriness of this dark theme. The record is by no means easy listening; with the combination of abstract sounds, the clash of two opposing genres and chilling lyrics – which have quite literally come from Wolfe’s nightmares – she’s managed to create quite an uncomfortable atmosphere, that would not be out of place as a horror flick soundtrack, whilst still maintaining intrigue and interest from the listener. I think it’s safe to say that the haunting sounds of Abyss are evidence that Chelsea Wolfe is nothing less than a creative pioneer of obscure, unique and alluring music.