Remember The Flaming Lips’ music video for Embryonic single “Powerless”? A woman, bound to a chair, in an open field, haunting sounds and voices encompassing the scene. Imagine taking that atmosphere, then stretching it across half an hour of audio. If you thought psychedelic bands selling gummy skulls and fetuses was par for the course, you’d be right. Alternately, Chelsea Wolfe is the latest unintended icing on a layer cake of mindful sonic apprehension and “end of days” foreshadowing. And she isn’t twisted or colorful, just bleak… and loving it.
Somewhere close to Coma Cinema, with a dash of Beth Gibbons, you have Chelsea Wolfe. In all fairness, the comparisons are safe, convenient ones in order to place this woman within reachable grasp. The vocals, while incoherent, are easily heard amidst the “There, There” moments in tracks like “Demons”, “Mer”, and “Friedrichshain”; musically, Apokalypsis holds its title well in hand, keeping a steady pace of gloom and doom.
“Pale on Pale” has subtle flavors of acoustic blues at the outset, giving the image of a lanky ghost marching along in chains. “Tracks (Tall Bodies)” sounds befitting of a sad song you’d hear on a television drama, where the main characters get the slow zoom treatment during respective times of inner turmoil. Chelsea Wolfe is a new face to me, but she brings to the table an impeccable sense of chilling reverberations, the feeling that something frightening this way comes (as if her album art wasn’t a parallel to this).
If that was her intention, she’s succeeded triple-fold. Am I a little weary of these artists who coat their vocals with distortion or echo to the point of incomprehension? Yes, but mainly because I’m a sucker for in-depth lyricism. As a purely noise-laden entity, Wolfe is pleasant to the eardrums, and that makes for a modicum of interest. Apokalypsis is an appropriate album name if there ever was one. Chelsea Wolfe seeks to do everything in her power to remain foreboding, and it’s actually quite entrancing. On the more deplorable flip side, it would be considerably bold of her to transcend beyond a few Hail to the Thief copycat endeavors.