Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Album Review: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence

Chelsea Wolfe
Birth of Violence 
***and1/2 out of *****

Chelsea Wolfe’s most recent effort, 2017’s Hiss Spun, was a heavy/punishing affair, and if you judged her newest by its title, Birth of Violence, you would think this is simply more of the same, but that’s not to be as Wolfe completely shifts gears, returning to her folk roots with exciting results.

While the sludgy industrial drone may be gone the naturalistic Gothic folk in its place can be just as dark. On the title track Wolfe sings of codeine inflicted comas and coming to know what she needs, visualizing while she bleeds, but the musical accompaniment boarders on pretty, even gorgeous at times.

Opener “Mother Road” wallows in its sparseness as doom slowly arrives via tom drums as strings warble at the fringes before a full cinematic ending; all after Wolfe has sung about spiders in Chernobyl. Things are musically brighter with the easy dripping/swirling sounds around smooth vocals as Chelsea surprisingly calls the listener to dance on “American Darkness” before the gorgeous heights Wolfe’s voice reaches on the ominous “Deranged for Rock & Roll”.

Birth of Violence is chock full of cinematic moments as Wolfe uses her vocals like a flute at times blending with varied instrumentation bending and soaring, constantly growing throughout the songs. “Erde” uses strings in the deep background barely audible until the dramatic final swelling while “Dirt Universe” slowly marches along, increasing the power as it progresses. Wolfe’s vocals truly tie it all together whether they are performing high wire acts like on “When Anger Turns to Honey” or setting the exasperated/breathy scene on “Little Grave”

Ben Chisholm worked with Wolfe to create the sonic landscapes around her earlier constructed folk melodies and those expansive pastures can help elevate and expand on her sound with the simplest twist of knobs or insertion of distortion; from the lush/delicate “Be All Things” to rain storm closing “The Storm” the mood is set with expertise.

Birth of Violence pulls off the neat trick of managing to sound hopeful among the darkness, an excellent statement on modern times and a stark reminder of Wolfe’s vast artistic range.
Got double booked on this one for Glide, but glad I did as this record is not one RtBE would seek out, but is worth hearing. Support the artist, buy the record and peep some video below:

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