Chelsea Wolfe – She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She

I admit I was unfashionably late to the party. It took my lovely partner, who has much more nuanced (i.e. - cooler) taste than I to introduce me to the world of Chelsea Wolfe.  Ms. Wolfe has released ten studio albums between 2006 and 2019. Each one is different to the last but retains a gothic atmosphere across her body of work. Her unique take on darker musical motifs worked beautifully with her collaboration with Hardcore band Converge, which twisted their songs into a panoramic post-rock soundscape. It's honestly the most played record in our home.


After spending most of her career with management/record label Sargent House, she has along with several other acts cut all ties with the label after accusations of widespread abuse by Label Staff. Returning after two years on a new label with her latest opus She reaches out to She reaches out to She, Chelsea Wolfe has said this album was inspired by her sobriety and witchcraft. Let's unpack that statement before addressing the music.


An individual achieving sobriety should always naturally be applauded, however, when an artist or band mentions witchcraft I suspect the majority of them are using cliched props such as pentagrams, and black candles, and playing at being evil…all very adolescent. Some crappy doom band running amok with the dressing-up box. In this case, Chelsea Wolfe is speaking of tuning in to a much more organic process that allows her mood and music to be impacted by lunar cycles and seasonal change. Anyone who has been watching her career closely can see this not only reflected in her musical identity but also in how her album artwork and live shows are presented.  


The first thing to note on this album is there is no acoustic drums. The album takes a much darker headlong trip down an almost pitch-black trip-hop Industrial rabbit hole. First track Whispers in the Echo Chamber lulls you in with breathy vocals and glitchy percussion but soon discloses something much more substantinal is going on. Lyrics such as “Bathing in the blood of who I used to Be” serve notice on how deep into the darkness this album will take you. Tunnel Lights is almost something you would hear on a chill-out compilation the delivery is so relaxed, until the abrasive rhythm section crashes in. The juxtaposition between her vocal and the electronic assault is sublime.


The album pulls off a good balance of sounding effortless while being musically dense and nakedly honest in its lyrics. Eyes like Nightshade lays it all bear with the lyrics “Ink on the page, Eclipse me, Reveal Me”.

This is both musically and visually a reinvention. The previous album covers shot in stark, cinematic monochrome are replaced here by a deep blue blurred picture of Chelsea Wolfe. As the album progresses it moves from the early tracks darkness into light without ever losing its gothic foundation. Place in the Sun and Dusk celebrate reinvention of the self, rebirth, and most of all the resilience of this woman. The final words on Dusk underline the album's underlining theme, “And I will go through the fire, and I will”.


As a listener, it is a different type of heavy. The guitar is almost absent and is only used to add texture rather than riffs. The lyrics are almost overwhelming in their honesty. It is certainly resonating with an audience as the tour tickets are being snapped up and the Vinyl, CD, and Cassette (!!!) versions of this album sold out on pre-orders on Bandcamp.  A fantastic achievement on release day.  


It would appear the Hour of the Wolfe has arrived.


-Bobo Coen