Chelsea Wolfe
Abyss


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tristan Jones STAFF
July 30th, 2015 | 498 replies


Release Date: 08/07/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lifting the veil.

For an album that presupposes sadness and neglect, Abyss is surprisingly bold. Opener “Carrion Flowers” makes this very clear. Whereas 2013’s Pain Is Beauty’s lead-in, “Feral Love”, tiptoed into the limelight, “Carrion Flowers” barges through the doors. Wolfe’s regal vocals are bolstered by crunchy guitars, warring drums, and thick, ominous synth drops. If Apokalypsis (2011) and Pain Is Beauty saw Wolfe hint at her melodic strength, Abyss is her unveiling. The sound is fuller than ever before, almost cluttered in its ambition. Though “darkwave” is a fitting descriptor, elements of doom, folk, noise, and industrial seep in. We’ve expected as much, for Chelsea has wandered between various gothic-infused styles in recent releases, but her penchant for unpredictability remains intact; she still throws us for a loop. The sound of Abyss hits with smothering, back-pinning impact. It’s alarming, given the singer’s often-delicate execution.

The first song to balance frailty with power, “Maw” has a raw serenity similar to Joanne Robertson, with an aura that, unlike preceding tracks, truly emulates the cover art: ethereal melodies, lyrical themes of wandering, and withering beauty (it could have made an excellent closer; it sums up the album’s essence, really). Though Wolfe’s lyrics are cryptic, occasional messages eke through the fog: “I’ve been waitin’ / in the silence […] where are you / where are you"” It’s not much to go off of, but it justifies the senses of abandonment and lingering. Despite it all, Chelsea has never sounded more resolute. Resilience is a pervasive theme in Abyss, filling its dark corners. "After The Fall" is a testament to this, with words of conviction (“Nothing will keep us apart / I know that you’ll find me there / after the fall”), and follow-up “Crazy Love” is steadfast, despite the dramatically plummeting strings that rake her back like nails. “Survive” is the most glaring example, both in title and structure; calm, passive reflections give way to high-handed drums, suggesting the tables have turned. The titular closer leaves things inconclusive, with scatterbrained violins and grating piano lines spiralling Wolfe into self-doubt.

Some criticized Pain Is Beauty as playing to archetypal tropes and significantly easier to pin down in comparison to previous works. While Abyss doesn’t entirely abandon this practice, the result is much more persuasive; Wolfe drowns the listener in noise, and it’s entrancing - less of a stylistic guessing game, now with a striking sound that acknowledges, and utilizes, Chelsea’s strengths, pushing her voice to the forefront of the chaos. Perhaps just as important, it exploits her weaknesses, lending to an emotional resonance rarely felt in her stoic delivery. The songstress has conveyed a sort of cool unattainability in past works; here, she doesn’t exactly bare all - not yet - but she’s less guarded in a way. Abyss might dim the lights and bar the doors, but it leaves the windows wide open.



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Despite some iffy structuring, Abyss is another fantastic album from Chelsea Wolfe....


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

stream: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/29/425892446/first-listen-chelsea-wolfe-abyss

pre-order: https://chelseawolfe.bandcamp.com

first line of closing para is a reference to Angel's Pain Is Beauty review: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/58636/Chelsea-Wolfe-Pain-Is-Beauty/

also, thanks to Angel, Gyro, and Pots for reading this beforehand.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


7605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks for the stream link, will read the review asap.



http://chelseawolfe.bandcamp.com/album/abyss





Edit:



Good review, keep it up.

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

adr
July 30th 2015


11798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

best funeral doom 2015 ._.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2015


25040 Comments


Know nothing about her or her music. I know that this review is good though.

Relinquished
July 30th 2015


36608 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"Know nothing about her or her music."



change that, she'll prob become one of your favourites

Relinquished
July 30th 2015


36608 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

good shit tristan, great review

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
July 30th 2015


4872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Her darkest yet, and a little grower too. Simple Death and Color of Blood are amazing.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thx sowing

and sweet glad u dug, relinq

cvlts
July 30th 2015


9424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

still gonna wait for my preorder to show up before i listen to this. not really digging the direction the album seems to be going based on your review.

cvlts
July 30th 2015


9424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i keep wanting her to lose the full band sound but that doesn't seem to happen on this... we'll see tho

Gyromania
July 30th 2015


23455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

finished product is great. nice job



i love the atmosphere on this album

jtswope
July 30th 2015


5657 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't wait to hear this.

DropdeadWHA
July 30th 2015


1396 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah this is brilliant, she can't do any wrong atm. I really want her to go full electronic/industrial though

alienobserver
July 30th 2015


3913 Comments


In love with her darkwave sound one of my favorite genres

Digging: Lil Peep - California Girls

FadedSun
July 30th 2015


1751 Comments


I'll try this, but I never liked anything from her other than that acoustic album she did.

Shiranui
July 30th 2015


541 Comments


I thought the album is dropping on 7th? So i guess it's one of those sputty mysteries that still have to be revealed to me.
Also, the streaming link is going to take down the songs in a while, amiright?



Greyvy
July 30th 2015


5804 Comments


>>>>>best funeral doom 2015 ._.

stupid comment. Iron moon is already one of my favorites of hers

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Release Date: 08/07/2015"

yep



"Also, the streaming link is going to take down the songs in a while, amiright?"

idk how NPR rolls... but sure

Relinquished
July 30th 2015


36608 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

they'll have it up for a week moreorless

Taxt
July 30th 2015


1050 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. This album is so good.



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