REVIEW: Chelsea Wolfe – “Vex” and “16 Psyche“

California-based alt-rocker Chelsea Wolfe has a new album coming out in September, following up 2015’s Abyss. Following the release of Hiss Spun, Chelsea will be on tour with Youth Code opening, with dates announced from September through November. If you want to hear a bit of Hiss Spun now, you can. Two tracks on the album have been released, “Vex” and “16 Psyche.”

“Vex” begins with hard electronic guitar tones reminiscent of the juxtaposed beauty and horror of a dimly lit Catholic church. The song then shifts into a thumping beat with melodic vocals that are eerily beautiful but without the floweriness of other lady rockers. The song forces the listener to go deep, like diving down in a lake to touch the bottom you don’t know you’ll ever reach within the wishes of a single breath of air. As the guitar plunges deeper and the drums kick up the pressure, closing in, the false vocal fold artistry of Aaron Turner comes in like a monster from the deep. There is something about the sound that pushes the limits, like when you turn the radio dial (yes, some of us still use dials to tune in) to a familiar station and you hear something so different you have to double check the frequency. “Vex” is a track that makes you want to go further, whether your direction is dark, light, grungy, sterile, or somewhere in between but no less profound.

“16 Psyche” starts with the sort of timeless guitar melody, arrhythmic and slowly gasping for the familiar regularity of percussion, that can make the first portion of the first second of a track immediately recognizable. When the slow, measured, pounding of the drums enters, at last, with a deep bass line that could loosen the heels from your shoes, a slight relief creeps in. Chelsea’s vocals cry and plead, that primordial call of [wo]man that seems as if it were developed just for the electric guitar. (Could that be a new theory of language?) At the chorus, the guitar drives harder, brighter, euphorically, like a multicolored kite flown higher and more conspicuously above the rest on a breezy day at the beach. The track is layered more beautifully than the firewood of a sexagenarian hermit living in Alaska, each piece fitting in with the last to create a sense of interconnectedness that metal music seems particularly equipped to provide the people fortunate enough to really hear it.

Hiss Spun is set for release on September 22nd by Sargent House. The album is sure to be a unique listening experience. Everything you have ever heard before has uniquely prepared you to enjoy the latest release from the clever Chelsea Wolfe, and everything that you will hear thereafter will be enhanced by her masterful use of electricity and vibration. Listen, enjoy, and catch Chelsea Wolfe at Aisle 5 in Atlanta’s Little Five Points on October 11th.

Gwendolyn Lewis Written by: