There is a noticeable trend sweeping the heavy music scene at the moment and for once it’s got nothing to do with genre. Women have always had a welcomed presence in the largely male oriented metal scene, but what was once seen as a point of difference is now becoming a normal occurrence. Some of the best music in 2015 has come from soloists or bands lead by female singers, take for instance the demonic Grindcore wrench of Cloud Rat; Myrkur’s isolated Folk Black Metal or the crooked classic rock of Royal Thunder. It shouldn’t be a surprise that women are front and centre in this industry because they convey emotions better than their counterparts.
Chelsea Wolfe’s sound is a bit of an enigma, over the course of her career, the metal community has welcomed her with open arms, even though her sound is more akin to darkwave folk, she initially found a niche of weaving her achingly beautiful voice through dark soundscapes, unconventional folk melodies and deeply harrowing synths, however Chelsea has embraced the metal on album number three, bringing in elements of Industrial, Sludge and Doom.
The opening industrial stomp of ‘Carrion Flowers’ sets the scene early, laying the foundations for a tense and absorbing affair, the album is many things; in her own words Abyss confronts the “hazy afterlife…an inverted thunderstorm…the dark backward…the abyss of time,” its a cataclysmic meeting of tension, intensity, anguish, frailty and passion.
Inspired by the terror of living with Sleep Paralysis, Chelsea is painfully honest at times “i’m screaming but I can’t wake up’ and angelic and sad at others pouring out that she is “losing her mind and my sense of something” on ‘Dragged Out’. ‘Iron Moon’ recollects the work Jarboe did with Neurosis, while ‘Crazy Love’ is a mid tempo acoustic number that temporarily puts a halt to the tension that continually builds throughout. Its not all delivered in a controlled manner, closing track ‘The Abyss’ is a clumsy attempt at winding down the emotion and clarity, whilst mirroring Fiona Apple at times.
Abyss is a tense and sad movement never allowing the listener the chance to feel content that Chelsea Wolfe is living in a comfortable space, and that medium is where artists truly shine. Lets just hope she can wake up in time, because this woman belongs in metal.