Chelsea Wolfe – ‘Abyss’ Review

Posted: by Findlay

Darkwave is back. Just like cannibalism and going commando, Darkwave is back with a fucking vengeance. Most Darkwave fans will say it never left, but it did. Everything went cheap and too militarized, but now its back with feeling. Yowling, deep electronic depths ringing out from the caves of hell, synths angry and dystopian. The best kind of stuff, and Chelsea Wolfe’s new album Abyss delivers all of this and more.

California’s Chelsea Wolfe is a mad as hell witch, hell bent on tricking you into thinking your not a goth (when you really are). Wolfe is constantly evolving inside her own sound, eating her own tail and making newer albums metamorphosed from previous sounds. 2011’s incredible Apokalypsis was a very organic sounding, ritualistic album with Wolfe clearly drawing influence from rural folk and black metal to make something haunting and accessible. 2013’s Pain Is Beauty evolved her sound, adding in some synth-heavy assaults and danceability, while retaining her ability to make eerie folk music. The experiment was clunky but when it worked, it fucking destroyed. Her new album Abyss however, is her masterpiece. Something to hide in the tabernacle and listen to during a sacrificial orgy.

Abyss is a howling, doom-folk animal with drive, purpose and something inside it that makes you want to dive in deeper for more listens. Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan has been recruited amongst others to flesh out the sound, giving the doom part more punch and the ghostly quiet parts more gothic personality. Songs like “Carrion Flowers” instantly start with a taunting synth growl before going into a chorus that fucking CRUSHES you under the weight of a dead moon, while Wolfe sounds like she’s helplessly hosting the song from within. THAT’S JUST THE FIRST SONG.

All aspects of industrialism and darkwave are on show full-pelt here, make no mistake, the heavy stomping assaults fucking rule, but what elevates the album are the genres that undercut those main threads. Doom, folk, country and some super weird databending tape themselves onto the albums sound, making it a ridiculously brilliant listen. Wolfe’s voice and lyrics have never sounded as good either. Ultra ghostly, poetic, beautiful and sometimes brittle when the songs need it, I can’t help but fervently obsess over this album.

As with the re-emergence of Darkwave, the production of the album is Grade A. Wolfe’s voice is slightly distorted when need be, guitars are pounding at the hard parts, ambient and gentile at the quiet parts. Synths are interchangeable from main song components to distant howls and grinds in the background, making each song a deep and spiritual listen you want to reach into and help burn. It’s pretty magical.

While not everyone’s thing, I do strongly urge you to give Abyss a chance, if only to save your soul from when whatever she’s summoning eventually materializes in the physical realm and you’re left eating your legs screaming “HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO BLIND?” or something like that.