Birth of Violence (Sargent House)
Chelsea Wolfe performs at The Cure’s handpicked Pasadena Daydream festival this weekend, and that makes complete sense. Of course Robert Smith and company, a group that have built a career on emotional, dark and weighty indie-goth anthems love Wolfe, a singer-songwriter capable of writing dark, lush lullabies that are both devastating and thrilling.
Birth of Violence is her sixth full length studio album since The Grime and the Glow debut in 2010 and early reports suggest that she has embraced a more folk sound this time around. If there’s any truth is that, it’s in a pagan-esque Wicker Man/Midsommar sort of way. There’s no Woody Guthrie here, but there are earthy, eerie, acoustic vibes at play.
Take the single “Be All Things,” a slow-builder that entices the listener into a crescendo of crashing waves like, very literally, a siren. The video is equally hypnotic.
“The video is a culmination of footage taken in a few magical locations,” Wolfe said in a press release. “Around southwestern Iceland, while shooting the Birth of Violence album cover, inside Moaning Cavern in Northern California — a marble cavern 450 feet deep that I visited as a child and sang in as an adult, sending my voice out as heavy as I could against the powerful dampness and sparkles of the ancient cave walls. A special spot in nature not far from my home where the Manzanita grows up like a red and green tunnel, and a historic California hotel from the Victorian era where many from the past rested their heads.”
So yeah, maybe this album isn’t as “heavy,” in a metal sense, as 2017’s Hiss Spun. But in many ways, not least lyrically, it feels heavier. More important, and perhaps more authentic. And we’ll be damned if “Erde” isn’t a sludgy, folk-infused monster of a song.
Elsewhere, the opening “The Mother Road” is a gorgeous way to set the bar from the very beginning, and the title track is equally seductive. But there’s no filler here — Wolfe has composed a masterpiece. An album that should please old fans while drawing in some newbies. And these songs will go down a storm with Cure fans at the weekend.