Chelsea Wolfe

Hiss Spun

Written by: AP on 06/01/2018 22:30:47

The metal community worldwide is often perceived to be quite tight knit and highbrow, but it was quick to embrace the manifold artistry of Chelsea Wolfe when she began to style herself as a ‘doom singer-songwriter’ in 2011, and consequently won the adoration of many a critic on the basis of her sophomore outing, “Ἀποκάλυψις” (Greek for disclosure). Since then, she and her band have held hipsters and metallers alike in thrall by pushing the envelope of heavy music, earning accolades galore with 2015’s “Abyss” and setting their fourth album up to become one of the most anticipated releases of last year. Entitled “Hiss Spun”, the record dropped in the early autumn and — without giving too much away — it absolutely lives up to the colossal expectations and even raises the standard with regard to its predecessor.

To make use of a cliché, “Hiss Spun” is a logical extension of “Abyss” in that the record continues to fuse elements of post- and gothic rock, doom metal, neofolk and electronica into an eclectic mix of heavy and atmospheric music with which existing fans will be thoroughly acquainted. But the various nuances have been interwoven with greater finesse now, so that everything sounds more vivid; the quiet moments are truly quiet, the heavy segments truly crushing, and the wealth of detail in between shines brighter than ever. There is more to “Hiss Spun” than simply amplifying what was already great about Chelsea Wolfe though, and one of the main ‘culprits’ in this regard is the involvement of guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen (of Queens of the Stone Age fame) in many of the tracks. As distinctive as ever, his riffs imbue the music with a sense of longing and nostalgia — bittersweet emotions that offset the suffocating darkness that otherwise reigns over the soundscape, and as a result, the album feels more accessible than Wolfe’s past efforts.

While catchiness becomes an esoteric word when applied to Chelsea Wolfe’s music, the material she and her colleagues present on “Hiss Spun” does have a newfound capacity for instant remembrance. In general, the songs are not so much catchy as they are haunting, but that does not stop the likes of “16 Psyche” and “Vex” from making an immediate and lasting impression. The former invites Van Leeuwen to dictate its style behind the scenes with an angular desert rock riff, while Wolfe binds a spell on the listener as she solemnly sings, ”’I can’t’, she said. ‘I’d save you but I can’t. I’d save you but the world’s bent. I’d save you but I can’t.’” in one of the most memorable lines of song that the album has to offer. Meanwhile, after capturing the listener’s imagination with an exhale of ”Hush!” at the beginning, the latter strikes an effective contrast between her fragile soprano singing in the trip-hop-inspired verses, and deep guttural growls from ex-Isis vocalist Aaron Turner as post-metal takes precedence in the chorus and crescendo. The droning enormity of “The Culling” should not be overlooked either, lest you’ll miss out a genuine massif of noise, and soon in its wake, “Twin Fawn” delivers another highlight, its whispering foundation elegantly juxtaposed by eruptions of jagged riffage and crashing cymbals.

But as much as the aforementioned singles do stand out, they do not shoulder the weight of this record alone. Like its predecessor, “Hiss Spun” is designed to be heard from beginning to end, with the plethora of sounds, effects and tiny nuances envisioned by Wolfe and her longtime collaborators, the multi-instrumentalist Ben Chisholm and violinist Ezra Buchla, working together to create a single movement, which ebbs and flows through the microcosm of each individual song and through the entire span of the album. As such, while the likes of “Strain”, “Offering” and “Welt” may not cause much of a ruckus when heard in isolation, they play an important transitioning role and ensure that “Hiss Spun” never loses its sense of purpose. Indeed, it cements Chelsea Wolfe’s position as one of the most intriguing artists in heavy, experimental music right now and needs to be owned by anyone thinking his/herself a connoisseur, nevermind of what exact genre.


Download: 16 Psyche, Vex, The Culling, Twin Fawn
For the fans of: Portishead, Sinistro, Swans
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.09.2017
Sargent House

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