On last year's Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe explicitly rendered the metallic tendencies that have always existed just below the surface of her music. Wolfe's soulful howl found its bite in gigantic riffs and devastating volume that suited some of her most significant songwriting yet. But at the Tiny Desk, Wolfe took her songs back to their primal form with just her voice, a muffled electric guitar and a loop pedal.
Removed from thunderous distortion, the ghostly "Maw" becomes a nightmare in broad daylight, as Wolfe details "shattered teeth under a dripping tongue" just waiting "in this silence while you're sleeping." "Crazy Love," a love song that's dangerous in its desperation, sounds no less chilling. But it's "Iron Moon," inspired by the poetry of a Chinese factory worker who took his own life, that's the most stripped of its metal. Wolfe's guitar sounds muddy and dank as she sings, "My heart is an empty tomb / My heart is an empty room," recalling the lonesome wail of Kitty Wells shot through the darkness.
Abyss is available now:
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Walker, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Ariel Zambelich; Production Assistant: Rachel Horn; Photo: Ariel Zambelich/NPR.
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