Published Aug 07, 2015World-crushing desolation has never sounded as beautiful as it does in the hands of Chelsea Wolfe on her fifth proper album. The master mood-smith plunges deeper into the bone-rattling recesses of doom metal than ever before, utilizing bramble-thick, detuned droning guitar fuzz, pounding drums and industrial flourishes to embody the most viscerally turbulent aspects of the emotional Abyss she vulnerably explores.
Overlaid with her signature mellifluous vocal melodies, the contrast is haunting. And, as is increasingly the case with each of her releases, especially since joining the Sargent House roster, contrast is a vital part of Wolfe's mindscape. The creatively restless songwriter mulches the husks of former expressive guises in order to enrich the soil of her next artistic phase; the cleaner pop impulses of her previous effort, Pain is Beauty, sit atop the earthy, fertile material beneath. Wolfe's search for specific sonic representations of intuitive expressions of anguish leads to some unnerving, yet still warmly evocative, usage of mostly-tuned piano and strings late in the album, making the journey all the more cinematic.
It's no wonder then, that cinema has come calling for Chelsea Wolfe, with album highlight "Carrion Flowers" being used to promote the upcoming Walking Dead spin-off. Tonally, Wolfe's controlled bombast and simmering undercurrent of hoping against hopelessness is a perfect match for the morally ambiguous zombie franchise. That being said, Abyss needs no visual accompaniment to conjure unshakeable images and intense sensations, so vivid are the pictures it paints with sound alone. (Sargent House)