photo by Nico Turner
When Chelsea Wolfe writes a record she goes deep. So deep in fact, she reaches a level of personal intimacy and darkness most of us wouldn’t dare to explore, but all know exists. That’s why we have her albums to do the diving for us and bring back the sonic depiction of her findings. On her fifth studio album, Abyss, her most evolved and personal record to date she does just that.
“I wanted to drop deep into my own mind approaching things I hasn’t faced before,” she said. “Sonically, I wanted to reflect the hazy confusion of a dream or the afterlife, the feeling of not knowing whether you’re asleep or awake, and the intensity of the surreal world we live in.”
On record, Wolfe explores the warped world between sleep and awake through her atmospheric vocals, which alternate between delicate and commanding, while ripping through walls of guitar fuzz across a haunting synth landscape built for Wolfe transcends through. On standout track, “Iron Moon,” this is most clear as she pulls us into calm waters and then throws us into a crashing sonic wave owning her audience like the moon owns the tides.
“I wanted to make sure [Iron Moon] had the right balance of intimacy and heaviness,” Wolfe said. “This song helps represent the album for as a whole for me—with its ups and downs, it’s like trying to wake up from a dream you’re trapped in.”
When it comes to playing the album live, Wolfe allows the songs to evolve into a reincarnation of themselves on each unique stage and night.
“Playing the songs live, they take on a new life,” she said. “We didn’t play any of the songs from Abyss until after they were recorded and they’ve already changed a lot as we’ve been touring. Some songs have become more distorted and loud, some have become more subdued and restrained. Sometimes it depends on the venue, the night, or just the mood. We recently played two nights in a row in New York. The Williamsburg night felt very raw and emotional. The next night at Bowery Ballroom was very reverent and quiet. Both shows felt special for their own reasons.”