You drift through black waters in a creaky boat. A hooded, seemingly faceless individual guides the vessel with an oar. A peculiar dark liquid drips from razor-sharp stalactites that canvas the ceiling above you. Impenetrable darkness is everywhere, so the size of your surroundings is unknown. You reach a dock and step off the boat before it and its driver suddenly sink into the water. The ground shakes, and the wall in front of you opens . . .
Happy music keeps us aloft when everything seems wrong; sad music provides a safe haven to dwell and contemplate life’s most agonizing elements; but what about music that chills to the bone? Abyss is the newest full-length from Chelsea Wolfe, an L.A.-based artist that colors her folk-tinged orchestrations with a palette of darker hues. This is Wolfe’s heaviest, and also her most graceful record; a tightrope walk of epic proportions.
When I say heavy, I do mean heavy. Wolfe has always flirted with the aggressive sounds of metal, but on this record she dives into full-on doom with the help of Russian Circles guitarist Mike Sullivan. Sullivan constructs monstrous walls of distorted guitar that engulf the listener and enhance the overall level of energy. It’s intimidating stuff, but bountiful rewards are to be gained by those that submit to the awe-inspiring power.
At the core of it all is Wolfe herself, an enigmatically versatile frontwoman that takes command of any scenario. Her voice lurks in the gloom as softly as Grouper’s, and it also howls like a operatic banshee. Wolfe is on a mission to illuminate the beauty that creeps in the darkness, and to give a voice to the horrors of life; a painful mission, but one that she owns completely. If you’re seeking heavy, folk-tinged darkness, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)