Chelsea Wolfe has always been a conduit for a powerful energy, and while she has demonstrated a capacity to channel that somber beauty into a variety of forms, her gift as a songwriter is never more apparent than when she strips her songs down to a few key components. As a result, her solemn majesty and ominous elegance are more potent than ever on Birth of Violence.
There is a core element to Chelsea Wolfe’s music—a kind of urgent spin on America’s desolation blues—that’s existed throughout the entirety of her career. It manifested in the lo-fi bedroom recording experiments of her debut album The Grime and the Glow (2010), the electrified dirges of Apokalypsis (2011) and Hiss Spun (2017), the electronic embellishments and distorted growl of albums like Pain is Beauty (2013) and Abyss (2015), and the sparse acoustic arrangements of Unknown Rooms (2012). At the center, there has always been Wolfe’s woeful longing and beguiling gravity, though the framework for compositions has continuously evolved based on whatever resources were available. Her austere beginnings were gradually bolstered by electronics and filled out with full-band arrangements. The music became increasingly dense and more centered around live performances. And while these lush recordings have in many ways magnified her power, the elaborate renditions create a dichotomy given the private and isolated nature of her art. Her latest album, Birth of Violence, is a return to the reclusive nature of her earlier recordings, written and recorded in the solitude of her remote home in Northern California.