Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence

Chelsea Wolfe takes a less-is-more approach on her sixth album, Birth of Violence

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 11 Sep 2019
  • Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence
Album title: Birth of Violence
Artist: Chelsea Wolfe
Label: Sargent House
Release date: 13 Sep

While Chelsea Wolfe has often shapeshifted in terms of how she presents her music, one thing remains constant: her big mood. Wolfe's atmospherics regardless of whether she is in doom metal or folk rock mode (as she is here) has always been a key element to her music; brooding, contemplative, dark. She is the musical equivalent to Grant Wood's world-famous painting American Gothic, a slightly disturbing slice of Americana that looks welcoming enough initially but soon reveals a sinister nature underneath.

On her sixth album, Birth of Violence, Wolfe returns to the acoustic guitar she started out within her earliest material. Returning to her remote Northern California home, Wolfe wrote and recorded her latest largely in solitude, and it shows. While on the face of it they may seem at odds with 2017's crushingly heavy Hiss Spun, the two albums actually share a surprising amount in terms of songwriting and mood. Rather like Bruce Springsteen's lo-fi masterpiece Nebraska, Wolfe re-creates a sparseness (albeit with modern production methods) that shows off her best assets, doing more with less.

On opener The Mother Road, for instance, she converses with Route 66, describing the seemingly endless nature of constantly travelling with one's thoughts, and how it has shaped her as a person. On the album's sole moment of threatened distortion, Deranged For Rock & Roll, she spins an incredibly heavy wheel without ever needing to fully explode. On the final track The Storm, we are washed out with the rain, a devastating effect of the landscape Wolfe continues to create.

Listen to: The Mother Road, Deranged For Rock & Roll, The Storm