Our dark sorceress of winter has returned with her fifth official album, Hiss Spun. Chelsea Wolfe is a truly unique purveyor of gothic imagery and soul-baring songwriting that simultaneously rings the bell of impending doom. Hiss Spun was recorded in a studio in Salem, Massachusetts, where all that surrounded Chelsea was an ominous forest and, the deathly quiet fields of snow in an unforgiving New England winter. What arose from her session is a compelling album that oscillates between industrial electronic hysteria and gut-wrenching vulnerability.
Wolfe’s music taps into an authentic well of pain, strife, and insecurity that is drawn from her own life and comes out in cathartic bursts of musical genius. The album opens with the sludge-rock “Spun” which is then followed by the glorious and epic “16 Psyche” that uses icey-synths to build into a banshee howl of a chorus.
It is Chelsea Wolfe’s angelic soprano voice that floats over the harrowing and otherworldly beats, which gives her such a unique sound. “Vex” has traces of Muse, with its massive winding guitar build-up, but then goes straight doom metal towards the end. “Strain” is an electronic instrumental while “The Culling” begins soft and wistful and then self-implodes into a hellish chorus line.“Particle Flux” is a driving goth-electro shot of adrenaline, while “Twin Fawn” displays the greatest contrast, jumping from a sorrowful folk whisper to a heaven-shattering metal breakdown. “Welt” is dissonant noise with experimental bleeps that fade out to a specter-like piano.
However, there are three truly game-changing songs that have all of the seductive components of Chelsea Wolfe on full display. “Two Spirit” has a forlorn acoustic strum that is hypnotic and eventually falls into a haunting howl. “Offering” brings an intuitive flow between all available tempos for an earworm of a song and “Static Hum” puts Wolfe’s vocals in the spotlight like no other song does.
“The album is cyclical, like me and my moods,” Wolfe says of Hiss Spun. “Cycles, obsession, spinning, centrifugal force—all with gut feelings as the center of the self.” While most Chelsea Wolfe albums are cathartic, Hiss Spun achieves a higher level of intimacy with her raw, unadulterated, and honest songwriting.