“Abyss” Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe

Abyss Album Review

Sargeant House

Released August 7, 2015

Genre: Experimental Folk, Doom-Folk, Noise

When I first started Abyss, the newest output from Californian folk innovator Chelsea Wolfe, I thought it was going to be a power electronics project. “Carrion Flowers” was the hardest opening kick in the pants I’ve ever gotten listening to folk/singer-songwriter/whatever. Possibly what made it hit so hard was the fact that this is my first time listening to Chelsea Wolfe. I never knew that anything folky could ever be this heavy and tortured. Although Abyss is a kick in the pants to the fans of the Bob Dylan-side of folk, Chelsea Wolfe delivers a kick in the pants that is refreshing.

This album isn’t just feedback and bass, there’s still enough of guitar and even horns to constitute a “folk” project. The melancholy-tinged acoustic instrumentation helps the more industrial and electronic noises add to the sometimes claustrophobic sometimes lugubrious tone of the album. The soundscapes on Abyss are dark and brooding, fitting for an album of that title, but what really elevates the experience is Chelsea’s pristine voice. It cuts through all of the noise brilliantly, like an opera singer during a gruesome and cacophonous scene. Her voice shines through like a beacon of hope despite being in a state of despair. Although the lyrics on Abyss are morose and tortured, the way she delivers them so brightly makes it a nice contrast from the harsh music.

All of the songs incorporate the more obscure noises with acoustic instrumentation very well, but most songs are structured in a typical verse-chorus way. This doesn’t make the songs worse, actually more cohesive, but there aren’t any major unexpected change-ups. The song “Maw” is hurt by this, as the chorus is faster than the verses; the drastic tempo change every 30 or so seconds is a little jarring.

This is a small downside to this otherwise fantastic album. The risks taken with the instrumentation yield high reward, although some may be spooked out by some of the 80s horror movie soundtrack-esque noises. This is a refreshing and dark record that anyone who dares venture into the Abyss should listen to.


FAV TRACKS: Carrion Flowers, Iron Moon, After The Fall, Color of Blood, The Abyss


SCORE: (9.1/10)

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