Dark, unsettling, moody, these are all words I would use to describe Chelsea Wolfe’s latest album, “Hiss Spun”. From the album art itself, you can kind of get an idea of what you are in for with Chelsea’s creepy hunched over pose and gothic clothing. She also evokes imagery of black metal with her pale skin and black hair and clothes.
On “Hiss Spun”, Chelsea Wolfe brings metal instrumentation together with her whispy vocals which settle across the album like fog in a graveyard. Her voice usually does not get much louder than a whisper, but when it does you cannot deny its haunting qualities nor its beautiful ones.
Problems pop up for me, though, mainly with the instrumentation and songwriting. The metal and hard rock qualities of this album, in my opinion, rarely offer any moments of excitement. It’s no surprise then that my two favorites tracks from the record, “Welt” and “Two Spirit” drop the rock instrumentation largely in favor of piano and acoustic guitar. I’m partial in particular to “Two Spirit” for the sake of it sounding a lot like PJ Harvey to me, and I really wish that more of the album could have been dedicated to this kind of sound.
I can certainly see an appeal to “Hiss Spun” for a lot of people, and this realization came to me when listening to “Two Spirit”. For most of the album, I was never sucked into the atmosphere it created (and it is a very atmosphere-heavy album), instead I felt like I was standing from the outside looking in and seeing what Chelsea was going for but not being a part of it. On “Two Spirit” though, I was in that depressed atmosphere, and if I felt that on every song I would feel very differently about the album as a whole.
Chelsea Wolfe’s “Hiss Spun” has not left me wanting to revisit it in the future. There are some good moments for me here, but they are too few and far between. I was also not affected emotionally, which I feel will be what a lot of other people will get from the album. Still, I’ll be looking for Chelsea Wolfe’s next project to see if the qualities I enjoyed from “Hiss Spun” have been spread into a full release.