Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence

Posted: 15 September 2019 in Albums
Tags: , , , , ,

Sargent House – 13th September 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

(Hiss) Spin it any which way, but following her last two inordinately powerful albums, which saw Chelsea Wolfe expand and deepen the depth of tempestuous noise and emotional force, the ‘eagerly awaited’ cliché was never more apt when Birth Of Violence was announced. Those two albums have left me emotionally raw and breathless since release, and I continually return to them as being simply stunning. It’s the perfectly poised juxtaposition of fragility and full-tilt riffage and noise that has impact on numerous levels and renders them with a special kind of intensity. Did I anticipate more of the same? I did I want more of the same? Could I handle more of the same?

It probably wasn’t entirely strategic, and probably more a reflection of the creative ebbs and lows, but nevertheless it makes perfect sense and sits with Wolfe’s creative arc to pull back the noise to deliver a reflective and largely acoustic album this time around. It does mean that despite what its title suggests, Birth Of Violence is altogether more sedate, and doesn’t grab you by the throat within a minute of hitting play. But then, in a world of noise, some reflection and hush is beyond welcome and necessary.

‘The Mother Road,’ unveiled back in June, opens with extraneous noise, but it’s acoustic guitar and a clean, untreated vocal that stand to the fore. Without the explosive crash of percussion and melting guitars one would reasonably anticipate based on recent for, we’re left to feel the pull of Wolfe’s tone and delicate intonation. But then it builds subtly to a rich swell of sound, a subtle adaptation of the post-rock crescendo that’s not overtly noisy, but isn’t exactly quiet either, culminating in a whirling swirl of noise around her emotionally fragile vocal.

The somewhat folksy title track finds Chelsea soaring, semi-operatic but also breathy and vulnerable and transcending to another plane, while ‘Deranged For Rock ‘n’ Roll’ finds heavy, murky percussion crash in behind her unusual pronunciation of ‘rock ‘n’ roll.’ She doesn’t sound particularly deranged, but more sedated. A lugubrious violin whines while the sound swells and surges and Wolfe soars to deliver a breathtaking climax.

‘Dirt Universe’ climbs slowly down to the gloomy depths of Leonard Cohen around Songs of Love and Hate: dark, lugubrious, and yet quietly intense. So intense.

It may be acoustic-based and considerably less noisy than its immediate predecessors, meaning it has less immediacy and less velocity overall, but Birth of Violence is an elegant and also striking album. Of course it is, it’s Chelsea Wolfe.

AA

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