Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun



by Eames USER (6 Reviews)
September 28th, 2017 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chelsea Wolfe reveals her final, fanged form

Hiss Spun was inevitable, the signs were always there. From how early in the career Chelsea Wolfe was given a “doom folk” label due to lo-fi distortion in her ballads; to how her previous LP Abyss had “Iron Moon” – a proper metal track (one of several), made in collaboration with label mates Russian Circles. Each successive album in Wolfe’s discography was bolder, meaner and Hiss Spun is the culmination. Gone are the rustic ballads, gone are the DIY aesthetics of cheap amps and blown out speakers. This time everything is made of metal while elite team featuring Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age), Aaron Turner (Isis) and Kurt Ballou (Converge) made sure the surfaces are polished to a glossy mirror. Production is top notch, especially the drums. Kicks have the punchy bass while snares are wet and full-bodied.

Debut and sophomore albums were “doom folk”. Pain is Beauty was “electro folk”. Abyss – “industrial folk”. Well, you guessed it – Hiss Spun is “metal folk” (folk metal?). Essentially it’s the aforementioned “Iron Moon" – The Album. Imagine being caressed and whispered things in your ear while getting punched in the kidneys: verses of sorrowful lullabies followed by explosive choruses. Or both at the same time. Unlike in most metal albums there’s no screams but Wolfe’s patented “empty room” vocals reach new heights (both literally and figuratively) above the sludgy guitar noise. Highlights include child-like murmur in “Vex”, siren falsetto in “Two Spirit” and panic-struck “Scrape”. While it’s by far her most homogenous and cohesive album to date, thankfully there are interludes to prevent fatigue. Namely a la Pain Is Beauty electronic “Offering” and signature semi-acoustic dirge “Two Spirit”. Another reason why album doesn’t get tedious is that only few of the songs follow the traditional “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus” structure.

Hiss Spun is not without flaws though. Will it end up in year’s top lists? Hell yes. Does it get bonus points for expanding artist’s palette? Absolutely. But while Chelsea Wolfe’s previous albums showed something new, Hiss metal sound does not break much of a new ground in the genre. Despite that it still will be a new experience for both her fans new to metal and in turn for metalheads who haven’t heard of Wolfe yet. Another annoyance is that unlike previous albums, Hiss Spun lacks a good closer. “Scrape” is essentially a long crescendo without any climax or payoff. It ends abruptly and leaves you hanging, unsatisfied. One can’t help but think that at some point this spot was designated to “Welt” – a short, piano-based interlude that dies with an appropriately desolate whimper. Most Wolfe’s albums seem to have flow problems in the second half and it’s true this time too. While at the start Hiss follows the classic “rule of three” composition, later on it becomes messy, with tracks interrupting each other.

In the end, female vocals are still a novelty in metal music and Spun is a welcome addition. The question that pops up when an upcoming artist manages improve yet again: now that Chelsea Wolfe used genres from all around the spectrum in her uninterrupted, five-album streak of brilliance, where do you go next? Is she even capable of making a bad album?

Standout tracks: 16 Psyche, Two Spirit

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user ratings (588)
other reviews of this album
Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
Chelsea Wolfe gives new definition to the phrase “facing your demons”....

PsychicChris (4.5)
Overall, Hiss Spun shows Chelsea Wolfe evolving logically while still retaining her eclectic palette...

Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

Great little review.

Have a pos.

Digging: Dawn Of Ashes - The Antinomian

Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

I also feel the "novelty" of females vocals is something far more interesting than what a male singer can do these days. Her vocal style is epic to say the least.

September 28th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review.

I gotta disagree about the closer though, I feel like Scrape is the necessary follow up to Two Spirit; it's one of the most frenzied tracks (the vocals, good GOD) and it doesn't lend any resolution to the album which I think is just how it should be, considering the album as a whole.

September 28th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

Originally in the closing paragraph I wanted to say how with each Wolfe's new album (which is always an improvement) I fear that it will be finally be a flop. Not because I would want her to fail (she's my favorite ATM) but because someone fails to improve *eventually*. I left it out because this thought is hard to convey elegantly.

@Taxt – I agree that it these two tracks flow well but for me "Welt" disrupts the flow where it is in the original, I like outros and I don't like how "Scrape" ends. So I changed it to a closer in my tracklist.

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