Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

Now with her fourth full-length album—depending on how you count them—Chelsea Wolfe has cemented herself as the queen of dark atmospheric music in recent years. This argument is further strengthened by her newest release entitled Abyss—another broodingly atmospheric and compelling journey through a sonically nightmarish realm. Each of her albums have been unique, spanning a scope from Apokalypsis’ cinematic horror-movie-feel to the 80s-influenced Pain is Beauty and even an acoustic album in between. With Abyss, we see Chelsea Wolfe explore thicker, dirtier guitars and droning noise. In this pursuit we find ourselves with one of the top albums of the year.

Pulsating, droning noise resonating with an industrial aura permeates throughout the opening track of Carrion Flowers. Ethereal atmosphere and vocals embellish the song, defining the essence of the album, particularly the first half. Iron Moon continues with down-tuned, crunchy guitars, intermittent quiet moments and more ethereal vocals, while Dragged Out slowly plods along to the rhythm of distorted noise and spooky backing vocals. Maw seemingly sits in a state of limbo at the apex of the murky depths of this abyss as soothing, yet foreboding calls asking “Where are you?” repeats over the course of this incredibly atmospheric track. Grey Days picks up the pace with a post-punk drum rhythm, circa Public Image Ltd.’s Flowers of Romance album, mixed with now trademark atmosphere, as well as cello. After the Fall stands as the centerpiece of the album as one of the defining pieces of Abyss combining all of the aspects mentioned above.

The first half to two-thirds of Abyss is a showcase of what Chelsea Wolfe can do musically and makes the album a worthy candidate for album of the year. However, it seems to fall a bit flat towards the end. The alluring effect of the first half begins to fade away as the latter songs lose the intensity established by those in the first. These songs are still of high quality, yet something appears missing—perhaps this album is a track or two too long. By the later stages of the album one has found themselves falling from the surface to floating aimlessly at its murkiest depths.

Abyss is another fine addition to Chelsea Wolfe’s stellar discography. Fans of her prior work will not be disappointed, nor should fans of dark ethereal music. Abyss has its own distinct sound within the Chelsea Wolfe catalog, yet retains the dark atmosphere that so defines her work. Although it loses some punch at the end, Abyss stands as a contender for album of the year in 2015.

Genre: Gothic, Experimental
Country: USA
Label: Sargent House
Release: August 7, 2015

1. Carrion Flowers
2. Iron Moon
3. Dragged Out
4. Maw
5. Grey Days
6. After the Fall
7. Crazy Love
8. Simple Death
9. Survive
10. Color of Blood
11. The Abyss

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