At the risk of sounding like one of those goth kids on South Park, I have to say there’s a certain beauty to the dark, creepy, and occult. There’s a sense of gorgeousness to a dark and frightening forest, and some sort of allure to a wonderfully told horror story. That lingering sense of insecurity, it’s not something that is easily replicated; there are very few things that will honestly make you think twice about looking a certain direction. I know I’m not the only one who actually thinks this way. I know this because something about the latest Chelsea Wolfe LP, Ἀποκάλυψις (pronounced Apokalypsis), tells me she feels the same way.
Pay no attention to intro “Primal/Carnal” which insinuates that Wolfe has delivered an album similar to that of tour mates Liturgy; this could not be further from the truth. Ἀποκάλυψις really gets started on “Mer,” beginning with a simple guitar line that kicks into the overall feel of the song. The dense guitar play creates a dark atmosphere, while Wolfe’s use of reverb in her vocals gives off the feeling of being spoken to by a specter. It could all become quite atmospheric and almost groundless, but it’s the drums that lend that aura of humanity, the idea that the painting being portrayed in this song isn’t out of this world, but rather something much more human.
The next track “Tracks (Tall Bodies)” is a much slower affair; treading slowly through the fretboard, the guitars create a pummeling sound that recreates the feeling of having the music closing in on you. The lyrics to this song also show Wolfe’s more conscious side with lines like “It’s a machine we’re up against/Devoid of reason, devoid of sense.”
Following “Tracks (Tall Bodies)” is its polar opposite, “Demons,” a track that takes Wolfe out of the limelight once again and is much faster, with its doom metal-like guitar riff, its almost tribal-sounding drums, and even a keyboard line played during the chorus. The track once again creates a ghostly atmosphere as Wolfe can be heard in the background chanting “Demons, demons, demons, demons.”
Having already introduced listeners to the kind of music she plays, Wolfe goes on to elaborate on her sound. The tracks that make up the latter half of the album alternate from ambient-like, to mellow, to more aggressive. On the ambient side of things you have tracks like “The Wasteland” which rely on a more atmospheric sound rather than a straight melody. Much like “Tracks (Tall Bodies),” “Moses” is slow and contained, which even evokes the feeling of a funerary procession. The horror reaches its peaks in more aggressive tracks like “Movie Screen”, which may seem like a quiet affair at first, but closer inspection shows a song filled with foreign sounds, all mixed together to create a somewhat hostile experience, almost like a haunted house inhabited by violent ghosts.
Ἀποκάλυψις actually sounds like the apocalypse; that is, if the world ended on a serene note. It sounds like that one terrifying nightmare you can only recall bits and pieces of. An album like that can only be called one thing: an experience. Chelsea Wolfe seems to have a goal in mind, to make even the creepiest music calm and serene, and I cannot give her enough support.