Album Review: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth Of Violence

Artist: Chelsea Wolfe

Album: Birth Of Violence

Genre: Dark Folk / Indie Folk / Acoustic

Review by Karl O’Shea

Chelsea Wolfe is one of the more interesting singer/songwriters to emerge in the last decade. Her sound has evolved from stark and minimal dark folk, through goth rock, electronica, drone and more recently, doom metal and sludge, all the while keeping her artistic identity intact. She’s unafraid of evolving her sound with every album and her restless experimentation has paid off with a diverse and adoring fan base.

Birth Of Violence sees Wolfe come full circle to the melancholic and atmospheric folk sound that began her career (think The Grime And The Glow, Unknown Rooms). The focus for most of these twelve tracks is Chelsea’s always-beautiful voice (the title track in particular will give you shivers) and acoustic guitar with the other instruments and sounds playing a restrained and supportive role. The production emphasises atmosphere and evokes an image of a long stretch of a lonely and dusty highway. It’s one of the more beautiful sounding albums you’ll hear this year.

Although there are less of the soft/loud dynamics as heard on more recent albums Hiss Spun and Abyss, Chelsea and longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm avoid tedium by keeping track lengths economical and emphasising melody and mood. Ethereal sounds and other instrumentation are introduced at just the right moments and no single element lingers any longer than it needs to. There is an inviting warmth to the production, despite the melancholic song-writing and at just over forty minutes, the album runs at a perfect length whilst leaving you wanting more (I may have played this album three times in a row on release day).

While you could claim that a return to folk and acoustic music is regressive considering the evolution in her career, Birth Of Violence is no simple retread. Wolfe’s voice isn’t buried under tonnes of reverb as heard on her first couple of albums and the production is much more inviting compared to the colder vibe of The Grime And The Glow or Apokalypsis. When the ingredients come together this tastefully, it’s difficult to complain.

Of course, if you were expecting more foreboding sounds and crushing riffs then you will be disappointed. This is the sound of an artist decompressing and returning to their roots whilst filtering those sounds through a decade of stylistic twists and turns. And as always, it sounds hauntingly beautiful.

8.5 out of 10

Birth Of Violence is out now through Sargent House.

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