The music business is ugly, hard, and not for everyone. You hear this over and over from industry types and even some artists. Still, it’s hard to not pine for the days when record labels were really putting a priority on A & R (artist and repertoire), and nurturing tomorrow’s important groundbreaking artists. Sargent House is one of the few labels that allows talented people to find themselves over and over again. They release music that makes it easy to care and be passionate as fans. Like the iconic graphic on their logo, sometimes you get the snake, sometimes you get the sweet cup of wine. Once in a while, both. One of those artists you get both sweet and bitter with is the fantastic enigma that is Chelsea Wolfe. Continue reading
Confession time, part one. Ihsahn has been one of those artists that I have found much easier to admire than love. Whilst that admiration has been sincere and deeply held from his time in Black Metal pioneers Emperor I know that I won’t be winning any cred points by stating that his art is not always at the top of my go-to lists. I like him, but I don’t always love him. Continue reading
Over the course of her career singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe has hardly given what you would call conventional output. Drawing influence from a distinctly varied and wide range of influences, her music has had a chameleon life effect of changing its style and colours over the years, always proving impossible to pigeonhole. On the path of further mind-fuckery, latest album Abyss (Sargent House) offers perhaps the most surreal and abrasive album of her career to date.
Abyss upholds the dark, gothic tinged atmosphere and tone of previous releases but also shows a greater embrace of orthodoxly heavier genres such as doom metal, drone and noise rock. Always one for sounds of mystery and unease, at times this proves downright terrifying, for example on ‘Iron Moon’ which contrasts between pummeling, sludge like passages with her powerful wail to cleaner, folk like parts where she sings with almost fragility, as eerie effects pierce the background.
Her vocals prove a real ace on Abyss working as both a perfect accompaniment at some parts and providing a perfect contrast to the sheer heaviness of the music at others, heightening the unsettling feel. Far from becoming an entirely metal album however, her varied range of influences from folk and elsewhere still show huge prominence, from the creepy Cello on ‘Grey Days’ to electronic noise throughout, through to the spine chilling string section that draws the album to a close on the title track. Even moments of delicacy pierce through showing beauty throughout the album’s cleaner passages.
As ever Chelsea Wolfe gives us another challenging album that will prove near impossible to categorise, but with Abyss it is certainly her most conventionally heavy and perhaps darkest thus far. Showing more in common with the likes of SunnO))) than ever before, contrasting with her soft vocals and other influences and Abyss is a deep, at times unsettling album that reveals greater nuances, layers and depth with every listen. Without a doubt one of the year’s highlights.