Photo: John Crawford

There’s always been an ominous bombast to the work of gothic songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, one that’s grown darker and more dire on recent albums like 2015's Abyss and 2017's Hiss Spun, which we called a “full-on sludge-metal extravaganza.” Consider it some kind of reprieve, then, that the doom singer’s latest, Birth Of Violence, serves as “a return to the reclusive nature of her earlier recordings,” its intimate, folk-leaning tracks highlighting Wolfe’s vocals and acoustic guitar.

That said, a storm’s still brewing on lead single “The Mother Road,” which finds Wolfe’s emphatic strums and evocative lyrics—“Building a broken but precious web/like a spider in Chernobyl”—swallowed in wailing spurts of black smoke.

Birth Of Violence touches upon tragedies like school shootings and climate change, per a press release, but it’s also a deeply personal, autobiographical record. “The songs describe an internal awakening of feminine energy, a connection to the maternal spirit of the Earth, and a defiant stance against the destructive and controlling forces of a greedy and hostile patriarchy,” the release continues.

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“I’ve been in a state of constant motion for the past eight years or so; touring, moving, playing new stages, exploring new places and meeting new people—an incredible time of learning and growing as a musician and performer,” Wolfe says in a statement. “But after awhile, I was beginning to lose a part of myself. I needed to take some time away from the road to get my head straight, to learn to take better care of myself, and to write and record as much as I can while I have ‘Mercury in my hands,’ as a wise friend put it.”

Birth Of Violence arrives on September 13 via Sargent House.