Words About Music
Chelsea Wolfe “Pain Is Beauty”
In the world of folk music, there aren’t many musicians out there quite like Chelsea Wolfe. Chelsea Wolfe is a California-based singer/songwriter who combines folk with gothic rock, post-rock, ethereal wave, and experimental music, making her entire aesthetic basically one of darkness, mythology, sadness, and gothic, as you can probably guess by the album title and cover. She made her debut with 2010’s “The Grime And The Glow” and has released an album a year ever since. I first discovered Ms. Wolfe after hearing her 2011 album “Apokalypsis,” which I now consider one of the best albums of that year. And her style has grown, shifted, and become even more demented than it’s ever been, certifying Chelsea as a fascinating figure in folk music four albums into her career.
“Pain Is Beauty” contains a lot of sounds and influences on it. There’s a little Nine Inch Nails, a little Kate Bush, a little Swans, and some Have A Nice Life thrown into the mix (HANL’s side-project Giles Corey bears some similarity to Wolfe’s style), and Chelsea is not at all afraid to test her audience with disturbing sounds and disturbing lyrics. It’s far more industrial than her previous work, and is night and day in comparison to her previous album, “Unknown Rooms,” which was a 24-minute collection of acoustic tracks. “Pain Is Beauty” is just a great combination of beautifully haunting vocal melodies, excellent production, and dramatic song structure.
This certainly isn’t the creepiest, loudest, or most thematically interested album I’ve ever heard in my life, but it’s definitely Chelsea’s most accomplished and most well-rounded work. It’s like if Evanescence wasn’t a totally horrific band, this is what it would be, except multiplied by quite a bit. It isn’t totally original, but it’s bursting at the seams with raw emotion and sincerely sinister instrumentation. It’s sort of a dark new twist on the 80s goth/darkwave movement, but with more of a Dead Can Dance vibe, minus all the Middle Eastern stuff.
Chelsea has proven time and time again that she is the rightful queen of dark folk, and it’s a shame that her music doesn’t reach a wider audience. Because underneath the shrieks and moans is some beautiful music that could touch a lot of people. Also, rumor has it that if you say “Chelsea Wolfe” 3 times while looking into the mirror at midnight, the cover of “Apokalypsis” appears behind you.
Don’t look behind you.
SCORE – 9.0
FAVORITE TRACKS – Feral Love, We Hit A Wall, House of Metal, Sick, Kings, Reins, The Waves Have Come, Lone