I'm generally not too fond of female vocalists. They're either a little too twangy, a little too whiny, or just all-around grating on my ears. There are a few exceptions to the rule, and I'm not talking about lame dude-growl sounding vocals like those done by the abomination in Arch Enemy, or obnoxious symphonic trash like Nightwish.
Chelsea Wolfe is one of the exceptions to the female vocalist rule. Soulful and dark, twisted yet refined, each of her songs combines elements of doom, folk, alternative, indie, and ambient rock. As the primary songwriter and singer, Chelsea Wolfe really contributes 110% on Apokalypsis. Wolfe begins the album with possessed growling on "Primal/Carnal" which shortly after transforms into "Mer," perhaps the most hook-laden track on the album. Each track follows a generally doom-esque chord progression. Distortion blurs Wolfe's voice, guitars, and the ambient noise into a sonic venture into the deep and forgotten recesses of the nature.
As a singer/songwriter, Wolfe's vocals are by far the biggest highlight on Apokalypsis. Her droning guitarwork sets the atmosphere and is a working backdrop for her winding vocal delivery. What impresses me the most is that her vocals never grate, nor do they reach melodic highs. Although they're somewhat gothic in nature, the vocals and atmosphere really work hand-in-hand to create a strong theme for the album. I often find myself humming along to the more catchy tracks on the album, like "Tracks (Tall Bodies)," "Mer," "Friedrichshain," and "Demons." However there are a few more ambient tracks on the album which in my opinion are not as enjoyable. "To The Forest, Towards The Sea" is a relatively pointless ambient outro, and "Movie Screen" is pretty dull as well. Tracks like "Moses" and "Pale on Pale" grew on me after listening a few times. Slower songs like these tend to need the room to grow a bit.
I feel like I'm cutting Chelsea Wolfe some slack solely because it's a female-fronted act that I enjoy, but when I really listen to the music there's a lot of emotion despite the semi-gothic delivery and atmosphere. Usually stuff like that falls flat on it's face, but here it's authentic, austere, and catchy. Best of all is that Apokalypsis has got a degree of heaviness to the music, which naturally as a big fan of metal and psychedelic rock appeals to me.
7.5 out of 10
Although simple, this album has a lot of re-spin value.
1. Primal / Carnal
3. Tracks (Tall Bodies)
5. Movie Screen
6. The Wasteland
9. Pale On Pale
10. To The Forest, Towards The Sea