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Avant Garde

Chelsea Wolfe
Ἀποκάλυψις Review

It’s no secret that we here at CVLT Nation are huge fans of Chelsea Wolfe and her eponymous band. Her dark aesthetics and unabashed love for black metal (she’s done a Burzum cover) gives her music the ability to appeal to both the metal crowd as well the indie/folk kids. On Ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalypsis, Pendu Sound Recordings), Chelsea Wolfe has created her dark masterpiece and a truly heavy album. From the guttural screech on opener “Primal Carnal” to the seven minute doomed out epic “Pale On Pale,” Chelsea Wolfe has expanded her sonic palette to include a harsh quality that was only hinted at on The Grime and the Glow. Read the rest of this review and check out photos of Chelsea Wolfe live after the jump.

The album’s first proper track, “Mer,” is a song pulsing with with sexuality. The drums throb like a deranged heartbeat while Chelsea’s voice coos out from between the guitar lines. The lyrics sound like they’re being sung by someone with high anxiety. Each breathy line of vocals sound like they could break at any moment until she reaches the refrain of “How can you live with yourself?” The movement of this song is so perfect and it gets the album rolling right away. It also showcases the production and full-band feel of the album. The Grime And The Glow was essentially made up of home recordings. There is a charm and intimacy to that record, but on the new album Chelsea was album to take advantage of the studio in a way that brought clarity and focus to her songs.

Ἀποκάλυψις is a downer of an album, but in the best way. The songs are a pure expression of melancholy. Chelsea Wolfe takes the uneasiness and anxiety of modern life, synthesizes it and projects it through a dirty lens in a dark basement. The song “Tracks (Tall Bodies)” was inspired by the film “The Road.” It’s fitting that inspiration came from the movie and not the book it was based upon, as the song and album have an unequivocal cinematic quality. The songs “Wasteland” and “Movie Screen” are as beautiful as they are sorrowful, with Chelsea using layered, overlapping vocals to great effect. The only song that breaks free from the desperation of the rest of the album “Friedrichshain,” a surprisingly upbeat track that, in context of the rest of the album, is downright cheery. It’s interesting to note that Ἀποκάλυψις contains two re-recorded songs from Grime; “Demons” (formerly Bounce House Demons) and “Moses.” The new versions sound spectacular with the full band treatment and fit nicely within the sequence of the album.

Chelsea Wolfe has really achieved something special on Ἀποκάλυψις. It is a testament to her songwriting as well as the cohesion of her band. It’s an album dense with dark atmosphere, but vibrant in it’s beauty and execution. The album is a journey from start to finish, yet each song is so strong you can listen to them individually without losing anything. From the opening scream to the last line “what is happening to me?” it sounds like Ἀποκάλυψις was a painful birth, but entirely necessary to bring one of the best albums of 2011 into this world.

Live photos courtesy of SF Sludge.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anthony

    October 23, 2011 at 4:32 am

    The most refreshing and hypnotic artist I have ever heard, a well deserved 10/10 review, the future is very bright for her and she deserves all the attention that surely must come her way

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