Release Date: 13th September 2019
Label: Sargent House
Formats: CD, DL, LP
Sombre, ominous yet with a majesty that you’d associate with Chelsea Wolfe. Birth Of Violence sees her moving in a sparse and stark direction. America’s ‘desolation blues’ (or maybe Dylan’s Desolation Row) given a coat harsh reality by a daughter of sorrow.
She’s done acoustic/unplugged before but anyone expecting Unknown Rooms revisited will find Birth Of Violence a shock to the system. It’s a record whose mood evoked thoughts of recent listening favourites Emma Ruth Rundle and Jaye Jayle, but less swampy and dense. Significantly barer and less of the unplugged. This is Chelsea Wolfe exposed.
Definitely, one where whatever label you attach, there’s inevitably going to be a ‘noir’ to complement. Despite what may initially appear as a low key coolness, the songs are underpinned by a controlled fury – an awakening of female energy and maternal spirit rebelling against the controlling forces of patriarchy. Gentlemen, pay attention closely and you may find Birth Of Violence a difficult encounter.
Dramatic and tense in the most subtle sense and often with the instruments almost indiscernible to emphasis the bleakness and to emphasis the haunting and ethereal vocal presence. Be All Things and Little Grave are almost hymn-like and bleakly lush, the power coming from the delicacy and the carefully arranged atmospherics of the soundscapes created by Wolfe and Ben Chisholm.
A hypnotic slow build that’s fully realised in Erde that’s tribal and hits right in the gut. A distorted rhythmic presence emerges that adds fuel to the fire that there’s more than a hint that some pain and anguish has fed into this record. Wolfe’s recent revelation about the impact of her great-grandfather’s paedophilia may have floated in and out of her consciousness while preparing these songs. It proves an indictment against the power of men and female vulnerability. “You won’t get away with it honey, You’ll never come close to me,” she utters in the title track, thought-provoking and masked. It’s tempting to read the high pitched opening to When Anger Turns To Honey as a scream, especially with the barely audible whispered vocal that follows.
Closing the curtains with the hope that these songs have turned out to be deeply therapeutic outpourings of the trials and tribulations that mirror the itinerant lifestyle of the travelling musician as well as more global anxieties. Coming off the back of the heavyweight Hiss Spun of 2017, Birth Of Violence is a return to the austerity of stripped back work an uncompromising and chilling coda.
Watch the video for the “love song to music” – Deranged For Rock And Roll:
Chelsea Wolfe online: