Live Review by Alex Moore
Though the monikers ‘doom metal’ or ‘doom folk’ no doubt conjure up images of destruction and violence, True Widow and Chelsea Wolfe show that destruction does not necessarily equate chaos. In fact, both acts share an innate ability to spin these themes of doom and gloom and create something beautiful and artistic, as demonstrated during their recent performances at The EARL on Sept. 9 in Atlanta.
For the uninitiated, True Widow combines the best elements of shoegaze and doom metal, resulting in a slow and hypnotic sound best heard loud and live. Though the dimly lit stage provided some brief problems for guitarist and vocalist Dan Phillips, the dark room created the perfect atmosphere for the group’s performance as they blared through some of the best material from their latest record, Circumambulation (Relapse Records).
Halfway through the lumbering “Numb Hand,” it became evident that the crowd was under the trio’s spell, sleepily bobbing their heads along with Nicole Estill’s thundering bass lines and Timothy Starks’ drumming. The vocal harmony between Estill and Phillips during “Four Teeth” was nothing short of powerful as the trio pushed The EARL’s sound system to its very limits with their somber yet hypnotic rhythms.
Opening with “Feral Love” from her new record, Pain is Beauty (Sargent House Records), Chelsea Wolfe took the stage and enchanted the crowd with tomes of love and loss. Wolfe’s work utilizes the perfect amount of dissonance, that when combined with the songstress’ voice, created an atmosphere that is at once beautiful and nightmarish. Half the tension from Wolfe’s haunting melodies came from the intensely personal and vivid lyrics, which felt like they’ve been ripped straight from the singer’s diary.
Earnest and passionate delivery from both Chelsea and her backing band provided a cathartic release to that tension, as the quartet swayed back and forth with their eyes closed, seemingly just as engrossed as the audience. Fan favorites such as “Mer,” “Demons” and “Flatlands” were played alongside “House of Metal,” “We hit a Wall” and other tracks from Beauty, providing the perfect mix of old and new material.
Much of Wolfe’s music encourages close listening and introspection, a concept that was seemingly lost on a small handful of audience members who shouted during interludes and took flash photos of themselves in the middle of songs. In the end, not even a comment from Wolfe herself suppressed the disruptive group. Take note: if a performer comments that your constant harassment, thinly veiled as praise, is obnoxious, it may be time to reevaluate some things. If you’re not already convinced of Chelsea Wolfe’s unique talent for combining beautiful melodies with apocalyptic sentiments, you undoubtedly will be after witnessing one of her flawless performances.