California based artist Chelsea Wolfe brought her Abyss tour to Aisle 5 in Little Five Points in Atlanta Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. On her latest release Abyss, Wolfe plunges to darker musical and lyrical depths than on her previous four albums. Although metal influences have always found a place in her music and she has garnered a large fan base from the metal faithful, she has never ventured into heavy as deeply as on her current release.
Denver’s Wovenhand opened the show playing mostly songs off their lastest album Refractory Obdurate. Although often referred to as an Americana or an alternative country band, the volume, aggressivesness of the playing, and urgency of their delivery brought to mind Sonic Youth, the Cult, and even the Smithereens much more than the Civil Wars or Cowboy Junkies. Charismatic frontman David Eugene Edwards seems to channel a shaman in his performance reminiscent of some of the great British goth vocalists from the 80s such as Ian Astbury and Peter Murphy. Wovenhand’s sound and energetic live show could easily have them playing large theatres for thousands.
From a dark, backlit stage immersed in soft blue and purple lights, the pulsating bass intro of “Carrion Flowers” began Chelsea Wolfe’s set. The crushing riffs of “Dragged Out” and “Iron Moon” followed. Much of the electronic sound from her previous record remains, but far heavier this time. The density of the guitars and sluggish tempo of these first three songs take her far from her folk roots and closer to the post metal sounds of Neurosis, Jucifer, or Sunn O))). The set was composed mostly of songs off the new album, but also included more delicate songs such “We Hit a Wall” and “House of Metal” from the Pain is Beauty album, and “Mer” and “Pale on Pale” from Apokalysis.
Whether playing the dark folk style that she has perfected or approaching the heavy drone of doom metal on the new album, the consistent elements throughout Wolfe’s work is great songwriting and dreamlike vocals that drape over the music like fog clinging to the night. Her haunting vocals add a sense of fragility and vulnerability not often present in music this heavy. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Abyss then go see one of the 21st century’s most unique artists.
The American tour continues through Oct. 2, with a European tour beginning on Oct. 30.