Monday, January 6, 2014

Chelsea Wolfe - Pain is Beauty (2013)
I'm not a huge fan of goth rock, but this album definitely manages to get my support. That said, it's much more than a mere rehash of Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Cure, though those bands were almost certainly large influences in the album's overall sound. Rather, Wolfe borrows heavily from folk, doom, drone, and perhaps shoegaze. While this is quite an eclectic mix of genres, the end product is remarkably consistent because she experiments not for the sake of experimentation, bur rather as a means of expressing her emotions and thoughts as she sees fit. And this is an incredibly emotional, beautiful album indeed. Songs like "The Warden," "Reigns," and "Lone" are so simple yet so powerful at the same time. They're absolutely hypnotic and gorgeous. Elsewhere, Wolfe's post-punk influences come in full force on songs such as "Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter" whose nihilistic title echoes well with the album title itself. Like Grouper and other experimental artists, Wolfe has a knack for establishing a truly haunting atmosphere. Her ethereal vocals linger in the background of every song like a restless spirit. "Pain is Beauty" is by far one of the most unique releases of last year and probably the best in Chelsea Wolfe's discography. For something off the beaten path, you can't do much better than this little gem.

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