Hiss Spun is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe and sees her back in the familiar territory of dark, dramatic gothic doom rock. Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of The Stone Age) is on guitar duties and he brings his inimitable style to the proceedings as does Isis’ Aaron Turner on guest vocals.
‘Spun’ drags you down into its sonic landscape due to the shear weight of the drums and a riff that is low and mean. Wolfe’s voice is melodic and has an insouciance that is both beguiling and beautiful. At points the whole gives way to a glorious racket. ’16 Psyche’ keeps the darkness burning nicely as it slouches and drips with doom-leaden menace. The simplicity of drums, bass, guitar and voice in pushing the vision of the song works so well. Hooks and melody abound as Wolfe swoops from a guttural growl to angelic highs. ‘Vex’ picks up the pace but the fundamentals remain: tribal drums and driving bass propels the music forward. A bowel rattling synth adds a nice touch to the soundscape and a death metal vocal, courtesy of Turner, peppers the end. ‘Strain’ is a one minute claustrophobic scratching instrumental and is less a song but more a bridge to ‘The Culling’. Drenched in cathedral reverb the vocal sounds distant and buried and it has the most funereal riff this side of Black Sabbath. Midway through it opens up into an epic storm of sound.
‘Particle Flux’ pulses on a synth that is so bassy that it will rattles your window panes and eardrums. ‘Twin Fawn’ is folk but less of the Dylan kind and more of the medieval variety. ‘Offering’ and ‘Static Hum’ are dramatic numbers and while they are both excellent in their own way there is a sense that they are a little too similar in tone and texture to the songs that have gone before.
‘Welt’ is more soundscape noise and melody rather than a song in the traditional sense. ‘Two Spirit’ sees acoustic guitar to the fore and an ethereal whispered vocal that is hauntingly beautiful. ‘Scrape’ brings the album full circle with the return of tribal drumming and driven melodic guitar. It is a suitably strong closer to a rather excellent album. Chelsea Wolfe presents a dark, gothic underworld and it is one worth the exploration.