Folk, metal fusion radiates evil, expresses unique qualities

By Xavier Johnson, Scene Editor

Chelsea Wolfe continues her descent into darkness with her newest record “Hiss Spun.”
On “Hiss Spun” Wolfe manages to strike a balance with the vulnerability of her folk roots with the unmitigated rage of metal music to craft a sound that is uniquely hers.
Wolfe’s music always had a strong sense of darkness interlaced in her lyrics and sound since she first burst onto the scene with 2011’s “Apocalypsis.”
The sounds of sludge and doom metal are densely featured throughout the record with dirty distorted guitars and a tempo that slowly progresses emphasizing every grimy note played.
This sound perfectly meshes with Wolfe’s dark lyrical themes and vocal style.
There is a consistent unsettling force flowing through album. The music creeps along quietly with a subdued rage emanating through Wolfe’s pained vocals and the guitar work.
These quiet rage crescendos into explosions, where Wolfe opens up, put more force into her cries as if she is unleashing the muffled pain built up beforehand.
On “Twin Fawn” the tension and release is at its most satisfying.
Opening up with muted guitar and drums acting as a background, Wolfe gently whispers, “I feel you, phantom touch, although you’re far, I hear you, I taste your blood, I haven’t had enough.”
The song grows quieter until the music is almost inaudible.
Suddenly there is a jolt of energy as the song explodes as she screams, “You cut me open, you lived inside. You kill the wonder, nowhere to hide.”
After the explosion of aggression, the song returns to its quiet beginnings. Wolfe’s whisper takes on a different quality.
Her voice quivers as if she’s recovering and trying to hold herself from a repeated outburst.
The song explodes again never returning to the quiet state of before, almost as if Wolfe was broken.
The lyrics on the record touch on the dark side of love with macabre depictions of passion, loss and pain.
There is a notable industrial rock influence, particularly in “Offering,” as she uses crunchy synthesized drums to back up her soft vocals and dreamy guitars to create a beautiful soundscape.
In the midst of the hellish sounds she crafts through the rest of the album Wolfe is able to bring forth moment of serenity.
“Hiss Spun” isn’t all Wolfe’s newfound metal aggression, however.
She brings her folk roots to the forefront in the penultimate track “Two Spirit.” Wolfe’s voice becomes one with the acoustic guitar making for a calming moment.
In the face of this calm there is darkness in her words. Wolfe whispers, “I’ll be screaming through the afterlife. I’ll be hunting for you, buried under flowers”
In the latter half of the track the distorted guitars return, signaling a noticeable shift in the music.
Wolfe’s voice loses the gentle quality and she asserts, “Show me your insides. Show me what’s underneath. Show me your bruises. Be your own God.”
The closing track “Scrape” is one of the more accessible songs on the record. There is a clear progression, powerful vocals and instrumentation.
“Scrape” feels as if it’s Wolfe’s final expression anger and grief. While other songs felt like cries of pain and longing, “Scrape” is the clear outright defiance found in metal.
On “Hiss Spun” Wolfe continues her artistic progression toward heaviness.
Each song, more than her other albums, contributes to a greater sonic and lyrical theme.
Now, Wolfe created an album in “His Spun” that captures the feeling of swelling rage.
Every song has moments of rage and restraint and it’s Wolfe’s struggle with these emotions that makes the album great.