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Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss (2015) - Review

Band: Chelsea Wolfe
Album title: Abyss
Release date: 7 August 2015
Label: Sargent House

01. Carrion Flowers
02. Iron Moon
03. Dragged Out
04. Maw
05. Grey Days
06. After The Fall
07. Crazy Love
08. Simple Death
09. Survive
10. Color Of Blood
11. The Abyss

Chelsea Wolfe has come a very long way from her days of only taking the stage in a black veil. She has slowly creeped out of her darkness, not to enter the light but to share her darkness with the rest of the world. Many people don't want to call this album dark, they don't want to call it goth. I think Chelsea Wolfe is part of the beginning of a new wave of darkness in music and art we haven't seen for many years, if ever on its scale. Her music like her career has been a slow brooding drum beat arising from the darkness to show us something of true beauty. But an unequivically dark beauty. Chelsea Wolfe first caught my attention in a photoshoot she did with Krist Mort, an up and coming dark photographer. 

Chelsea Wolfe has a very impressive collection of albums for the short number of years she has been making music under her own name. Each album has its own feel and shows a growing maturity in the songwriting process. Apokalypsis was a true masterpiece, with some hits like "Demons" and "Pale On Pale" showing the dynamics and versatility of this band. Pain Is Beauty was a much more refined release with equally impressive tracks but less of the raw aggression. I have seen multiple live performances where the band shows flawless precision in recreating these dark and versatile tracks. I truly believe Chelsea Wolfe is a force here to stay.

Abyss takes no prisoners. It begins with a monumental track full of industrial guitars, electronics, and hammering drum beats. "Carrion Flowers" could stand up against the best of Nine Inch Nails' collection. A connection I can't help but loving to make and return to throughout Abyss. "Iron Moon" is a bit more down-beat but still a rather energetic track. Chelsea whispers to you over dark noises and soundscapes and then kicks into full gear showing the band's love for doom metal along the way. In "Dragged Out" we hear raw and unforgiving melodies, another down-tempo track with a taste of stoner and doom metal to it. "Maw" is a much lighter experience as a whole than the previous tracks, she sings in the background with operatic progressions, reminiscent of CocoRosie, all the while the guitars are playing a depressive and simple chord progression with a ritualistic surety.  "Grey Days" is a memorable and very dynamic track. The volume and intensity rise and fall from whispers into screeching guitars and martial drum lines. Chelsea's voice is quivering and dark yet certain of its goals. The song gently falls into the repeating words "The Grey Days" and it feels as if someone has died as the song ends. "After The Fall" another of the most memorable on Abyss, comes in with a very cool synth line that melts into piano, vocals, and gentle distortion reminding me simultaneously of some of Pink Floyd's strangest tracks and Nine Inch Nails's "Hurt". By the end, after a bit of 80's style horror-movie music that would fit right into a Dario Argento film, it rolls gently into the energetic and destructive guitars and vocals with a slow and steady drum line. "Crazy Love" is a rather calm acoustic track with some very impressive string arrangements mixed in, ending in a deep drone. "Simple Death" is a very straight forward track seeming almost to be more at home on an indie or folk rock album than here, it almost sounds like a country song. Yet it is the perfect downtime after all the energy surrounding it. It is quite a beautiful song with melodies that will follow you through the rest of your evening. The haunting phrase "The end of the beauty of it all." reminds us that we have not gone far from the darkness we are only catching a glimmer of light before the final plunge into the abyss. The title of "Love Story" seems to speak for the subject matter. It starts as a contemplative and acoustic track that slowly flows in and out of a horrifying soundscape which becomes more prevalent and piercing through the track which kicks into a full on dark horrific doom driven experience. "Color Of Blood" comes in with this same level of intensity. It is slow and quiet with a deep brooding distortion ending in an industrial climax. "The Abyss" is a very strange and experimental sounding song with drones and many creepy guitar sounds falling into a dark choir and a horrific atmosphere, or is it just the wind? The track ends the album with a very off putting string arrangement that melts into noise. This is the Abyss.

Chelsea Wolfe has presented here an album with great intensity. There is never a dull moment and the band fits perfectly to her ghostly vocals. Many critics say this is not a "dark" album, but I disagree. I can hear darkness in every track. It is a constant brooding horrific experience. The Abyss is where Chelsea Wolfe is the most comfortable and we hear on this album a true vision of what it is like in that darkness. There are many memorable tracks here and they will stay interesting for many replays. Great production value matched with a raw beauty and intensity make for a masterpiece. However, I know with Chelsea Wolfe there will be even greater things to come. I'm in it for the long haul. Let's hope the next time she creeps out of the abyss it will be with an equally amazing release.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 9/10