Chelsea Wolfe

support A Dead Forest Index
author AP date 06/11/15 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

As already discussed in my review of her latest album "Abyss", Chelsea Wolfe has been causing significant tremors lately, not least because most unusually, her music appeals to choosy metallers as much as it does to the hipper types. As such it is not exactly surprising that her concert here in Copenhagen was sold out in advance, and that Loppen is already bustling with people when I arrive, all trying to reserve a good vantage point in the intimate and pillar ridden confines so as not to be forced merely to listen to Wolfe's music, but also take in the visuals. First however, there is, as always, the matter of the support act, who in this case have made the gruelling trip from Auckland, New Zealand in order to participate in the tour.

Photos courtesy of Peter Troest

A Dead Forest Index

When your core audience stems from two starkly different scenes, it can be tricky to choose an appropriate opening act, and that perhaps is the primary reason for A Dead Forest Index not really piercing my metal-hardened skin. The duo, which consists of brothers Adam on electric guitar & vocals and Sam Sherry on the drums, plays slow, melancholy folk(-rock) with downcast, shoegazing demeanours that leave little for us to look at. I say little, because Sam does put some effort into performing, not just drumming; he uses an impressive variety of stick types and percussion techniques, looking super focused and as though every strike of a drum skin meant the world to him. On Adam's side things are sadly rather monotonous judging past his immaculate singing, and the flat dynamics that many of the songs are built around do nothing to woo me either. There is a pressing need for something to happen - either in terms of the showmanship or some striking passage in one of the songs - yet only "Ringing Sidereal" halfway through the set is capable of capturing my attention just a little. Add to that the constant loud chatter of the audience, which for the most part could not seem to care less about these boys, and even the potential for this really dreamy, intimate show is annulled. Or maybe I simply do not get it.


Chelsea Wolfe

The criss crossing laser lights that envelop the stage in the final minutes leading up to Chelsea Wolfe's arrival are all that is needed to convince me that her and her faithful compatriots' show is likely to border on the magical tonight. Yet when they enter one by one, first lead guitarist Aurielle Zeitler followed by drummer Dylan Fujioka, then jack of all trades Ben Chisholm, and finally the lady herself, guitarist/vocalist Chelsea Wolfe and proceed immediately with the devastating "Carrion Flowers", the resulting sensation, for me, is not the sudden surge of wow that I had anticipated. It feels almost too casual, the stunning lighting aside, and although Wolfe's voice sounds every bit as tragically magnificent and heavy as it does on record, I am left merely thoughtful, wondering why the hypnotising quality of the already mentioned "Abyss" in particular is not quite translating in the live setting.

That feeling continues to nag me through "Dragged Out" - a song which gives real credence to the 'doom singer-songwriter' label now attributed to Wolfe - and I find myself wishing that Russian Circles guitarist Mike Sullivan and violinist Andrea Calderon, both of whom did such a phenomenal job on "Abyss", were included on this tour as well to flesh out the performance. Fortunately, the concert turns out simply to be suffering from the well-known affliction of a sluggish start, and by the time it moves into "Kings" at track three, a trancelike sensation is beginning to take hold. Given the slow, introspective and deeply anguished nature of Chelsea Wolfe's music, it is of course not surprising that both band and audience constrain their movement to a gentle, dreamy sway during the trip hoppy and post-rocky parts or slow headbanging when the band lays down some seriously potent drone and doom metal - this is the reaction that I had anticipated, and it works well. Most eyes are in fact shut during the songs, only strengthening the illusion that all of us are under some benevolent spell and it is in this state that songs like the gorgeous "After the Fall" and "Maw" make sense.

Wolfe, who once suffered from stage fright it is said, grows more comfortable with each passing song, too, and by the time the evening hits its crescendo with "Iron Moon", everyone in attendance looks mesmerised. It is a rare thing for music to achieve this, I find, so all credit must be extended to Wolfe and her colleagues' song-writing first of all, with the samples, strings, synthesizers, the monolithic weight of guitar and bass, and of course Wolfe's ethereal, almost Gothic singing painting a uniquely varied soundscape with an innate ability to just grab you; to imprison you in the beautiful gloom of the music. Add to this the moody lighting and the somber demeanour of the musicians (particularly Wolfe herself), and Chelsea Wolfe in concert does indeed become magical - it just requires patience. Nonetheless, when the three-song encore winds to a close, I must admit to myself: I am not entirely swept away. What I've seen here suggests that Chelsea Wolfe are capable of an even more enchanting performance - one that I hope she will return to deliver as soon as possible.


  • 01. Carrion Flowers
  • 02. Dragged Out
  • 03. Kings
  • 04. We Hit a Wall
  • 05. After the Fall
  • 06. Maw
  • 07. Mer
  • 08. House of Metal
  • 09. Simple Death
  • 10. Iron Moon


  • 11. Survive
  • 12. Color of Blood
  • 13. Pale on Pale

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