Review || Chelsea Wolfe - "Birth Of Violence"

American singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe is releasing her new studio album, "Birth Of Violence", on September 13th 2019 via Sargent House. It is the follow-up to 2017's "Hiss Spun", which introduced a new level of intensity in Wolfe's music. I spent the entire day I received the new record spinning it on repeat. It wasn't until that evening that I sat down to start writing. I think one can better perceive the haunting nature of her music in the late hours.

The first thing that struck me was that "Birth Of Violence" is ambient in every sense of the word. Painting almost cinematic landscapes, it engulfs the listener like the soundtrack of wandering through a dark road. The album is stripped to the bare essentials; a voice, a guitar, a viola and mild percussion. Paying homage to Chelsea Wolfe's previous work, this is hardly what we would consider as the logical next step after "Hiss Spun". However, here lies a beautiful juxtaposition. The back-to-the-roots, almost oldschool, approach allows Chelsea Wolfe to return to her pure, unbridled craftmanship from a brand new standpoint. The rather terse melodies prove once more that she doesn't need heavy instrumentation to invoke strong emotions. Her talent shines the brightest as we follow her solitude and homesickness, silent observers to how she breaks and puts herself together again. Although ethereal and fragile, she channels the immense inner strength of the Divine female while she chants her cryptic stories, touching on personal issues as well as devastating events of our every day life. She reaches subtle crescendos employing beautifully unexpected twists to make the songs memorable; the eerie high notes at the end of "Birth Of Violence", almost eastern melody and playful vocals in "Erde" or the guitar and strings enfolding the crushing vocal lines on "Be All Things" further add to the raw and honest storytelling, making it almost otherworldly. The key component of this album is how personal it feels. There is absolutely no excess, just longing for a heart to find what it truly needs, a chagrin that manifests as intermittent pain, with howling cries and harrowing lyrics ("Hell is on earth", "I do not have a child/but I'm old enough to know some pain", "broken female intertwined/to the fields of Eden/to the swelling tide"). Finally, what I find incredibly fascinating is how Chelsea Wolfe flirts with untraditional renditions of traditional down-tempo blues, both vocally and composition-wise, especially in the songs deriving from the musician's nomadic lifestyle.

Overall, "Birth Of Violence" is a brilliant album. It stems from a dark place and appears to validate Theophile Gautier's wisdom when he wrote that "solitude feeds somber thoughts". I have a newfound love for Chelsea Wolfe's pure, exonerated artistry and this album will be at a very high position in my yearlist.
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