Chelsea Wolfe
She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out To She

(Loma Vista)


I’m not sure if Chelsea Wolfe has ever been called the “Queen of Darkness” but after seven albums of doom-laden, dread-fuelled, gothic folk, she’d at least be in the conversation. That isn’t to say all of her work exclusively plays out in the abyss but it’s certainly a space Wolfe feels comfortable sinking into; and while She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out To She isn’t as metal-focused as predecessors Abyss or Hiss Spun, it’s still nightmarish in its heft and beauty.

Here, it feels as if Wolfe has taken stock, cherry-picking elements of her back catalogue – the breakbeat and electronics of 2013’s Pain is Beauty, the folkier elements of 2019s Birth of Violence, the heaviness of the aforementioned Abyss (2015) and Hiss Spun (2017) – to refine and balance what album number seven could sound like. It’s not as literal as sequencing genre track-by-track but you can hear that intent across She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out To She.

Where ‘Whispers in the Echo Chamber’ crashes and thunders with a guttural, shrieking metal breakdown, ‘House of Self-Undoing’ is an injection of amphetamine and humming, buzzing energy with Wolfe’s vocal sculpting its hurtled, speed percussion progress. Where ‘Salt’ is brooding and burdened, her voice floating somewhere in the void, ‘Place in the Sun’ puts it front and centre with the clashing, mordant thrums replaced by a lighter, brighter, tumbling backdrop.

Amidst the heaviness, it’s interesting to hear TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek’s fingerprints all over She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out To She, with his ear for deconstruction a perfect counterweight to the lurching destruction. Industrial electro glitches dance around traditional melodies. Heavy guitars dissolve into trip-hop breaks. Tracks loom and lurk then unexpectedly explode as Wolfe waits, wails, soars, shrieks, stalks and skulks, unburdened and uninhibited by the density; the lighthouse in the storm, her voice snakes around the tension and turmoil, the sweet scythe carving through the darkness.

On ‘The Liminal’, she haunts the halls before suddenly coming through the walls. The ‘Unseen World’ is an Assassin’s Creed cutscene, all old world sweeping drama and crescendo rising. But album closer ‘Dusk’ is more of an expected slow and steady heave, its weight coming in waves of giant hooks and chord changes that fully lean into its place as a towering finale before drifting out to nothing. And then everything is quiet, almost too quiet, once more.