Pain Is Beauty is an eerily gorgeous album from artist Chelsea Wolfe. Returning with bandmates Ben Chisolm (who co-produced), Kevin Dockter, and Dylan Fujioka, Wolfe takes elements of last year’s Unknown Rooms, mixes in some of 2011’s Apokolypsis, and then integrates all it into a really interesting brew of music.
Wolfe opens her latest with “Feral Love”, which lives up to the title. The entire song is an exercise in creating primitive tensions via repetition and volume manipulation. A constant distorted bass drum anchors the tune, while varied levels of synths and distortion pop in and out. “We Hit A Wall” is Wolfe going huge. Drums endlessly echo, bass chords ring out, and Wolfe sings as though she was recorded in a deep cave at the bottom of the world. “The Warden” comes back to the Apokolypsis style electronica, while “Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter” is Wolfe’s version of a sixties soul love song put through a filter of the world ending.
“Sick” finds Wolfe riding a musical wave of nausea. That feeling we get when our equilibrium is off, and the world is moving up and down and all around us. That’s “Sick”. The way Wolfe attacks the vocals against the constant ebb and flow of the soundscapes, creates that unnerving sense of not being able to find your footing. Wolfe ends Pain Is Beauty with a double shot of near perfection. “They’ll Clap When You’re Gone” holds to a more acoustic style, while “The Waves Have Come” expands the acoustic beginnings with strings and synths.. There is no doubting the power of Chelsea Wolfe’s talent, and if you were unsure, these two songs should shut you up quickly.
Like Bat For Lashes, Beth Orton, or Patti Smith, Chelsea Wolfe exists in absolute and total honesty. This is her statement. This is her art. It challenges, it’s confrontational, and it isn’t always an easy listen. If you can get beyond that, then you’ll experience an album that will stay with resonate with you long after it ends.- by Iann Robinson