You’d be hard-pressed to find a female singer-songwriter who appeals to metalheads and folkies alike. Chelsea Wolfe’s beautifully somber songs somehow traverse both realms. Her music has been aptly described as “drone-metal-art-folk.” She melds the dark, drones of doom metal with stark piano notes and guitar arpeggios – over which she sings in a haunting tenor trill. Her own compositions aside, she can cover the 1939 folk staple “You Are My Sunshine” alongside Burzum’s 1992 Norwegian black metal dirge “Black Spell Of Destruction” while retaining her signature sound and style.
With Chelsea’s fourth album Pain Is Beauty, she innovatively culminates all her influences into a palpably intense listening experience that feels like these songs were recorded in the eye of an apocalyptic storm. Electronic rhythms and unsettling soundscapes set a cinematic tone on the opening “Feral Love.” But centerpiece song “Sick” best showcases her inventive potential to spin analog synthesized chamber pop, string arrangements and doomy drones into a sophisticated, cosmopolitan accessibility that’s already setting trends in modern recorded balladry.