Discovering the music of American singer Chelsea Wolfe last year through her previous record "Pain Is Beauty" was a breath of fresh air. Another reminder that there seems to be an endless source of sound out their that can reach you in many different ways. Chelsea's cold, bleak and shadowy music plays off her sweet somber voice like a spirit calling out from dark and on "Abyss" she takes a big step thematically and musically into her darkest sound yet. Accompanied by several members of Russian Circles the album takes the big roaring Post-Metal sound the band play to new territory with monstrous guitar work plunging us into the abyss.
What I previously liked most about Chelsea's music was the juxtaposition between the brighter melodies and the dark, gloomy tones that played off one another. Abyss is stripped bare of anything uplifting and plunges deep into a wallowing despair of darkness as the Post-Metal apocalypse broods sludgy, gritty riffs of ambiguous noise under a rattling kit and Chelsea's lonely cries. Its a hefty, atmospheric sound, but one that wasn't quite as enthralling as its ambition. The riffage falls savage to its textural ambitions and doesn't make anything memorable with the notations.
This is much the tale of the first half of the record and with "After The Fall" the album picks up with a distinct shift in direction as the distortion guitars drop from the focal point. This second half has a lot more melody and driving moments that still focus on an unforgiving despair. "Crazy Love" utilizes a haunting string section that cascades and descends with a tone of horror and evil under Chelsea's soft vocal inflections. Across the album she reveals the dark and tormenting experiencing of the sleep paralysis she suffers from, which a part of this album deals with and contributes to its haunting theme as she shares with us the frozen wakeful state of shadowy figures and being trapped in oneself.
Abyss is an ambitious and focused effort that I cannot criticize, the production works together monstrous distortion and bleak sounds with a clarity that avoids feeling sterile and the music its captured has its direction but for the most part this particular strand of dark isn't as immersible for me as I would of liked. What I like most about her music is that chemistry where the darker sounds smother the brighter melodies within and the first half of the record was devoid of any of that. I'm hoping its just something I'm not in the mood for right now, as I can hear whats great about this one, but right now it hasn't clicked.
Favorite Tracks: After The Fall, Crazy Love, Simple Death