I don’t respect women but I respect the hell out of Chelsea Wolfe. I’ve been into this woman for a while now. There’s something about her music that just does it for me. It’s lo-fi and heavy without really being metal, yet it still retains enough of a dark aesthetic to get lumped in with mainstays like Converge or Neurosis. The latest album by Wolfe and her band, Hiss Spun, might be their darkest release yet.
Over the past 7 years of their career, Chelsea Wolfe have developed a trademark sound for their self. Sophisticated songwriting, ungodly heavy guitar tones, very mellow drumming, low fidelity production, all capped off with Wolfe’s haunting yet beautiful vocals. They never drift into metal territory, but they flirt with it a great deal.
Take the opening riff on “Vex” for example. That straight up sounds like a Neurosis riff, but it drifts into something a little darker, a little more mellow. A discordant tremolo picked guitar line, faster drums that try to keep up with precision, while Wolfe croons over it. “I kept my head down and bit my tongue until I tasted love.” A very powerful track, to be honest.
I feel like there’s a bit of a listening curve here to get into Chelsea Wolfe, though. If you haven’t heard anything quite like this it can seem really, really abrasive. There’s a whole slew of female-fronted avant garde bands out there with similarities to Chelsea Wolfe. You can listen to something more poppy and entry level like, say, Angel Olsen to get yourself accustomed to this spectrum of music. Even St. Vincent would be a good starting off point for diving into this.
Regardless, Chelsea Wolfe is worth listening to. Hiss Spun is not their best work to date; it’s not even their most entry level. For my money I would always pick Pain Is Beauty as my favorite of their catalog, but this is definitely a great album. There are no bad tracks here, every track flows seamlessly, it’s dark, it’s brooding, yet it’s also beautiful. It just misses the mark a bit to be their best album. Despite that, I can’t recommend Chelsea Wolfe enough, my friends.
Hiss Spun gets a 4/5 from me.
Check it out on Bandcamp here.