A very warm, mid summer Wednesday evening and a pretty little town on the Croatian coast, some sort of pocket sized Trieste under the name of Rijeka, are the perfect frame of one of the main events for listeners of a peculiar kind of obscure and experimental music, Chelsea Wolfe’s European tour. Out with her fifth album, “Hiss Spun”, following a kaleidoscopic career, without counting a youth effort and an acoustic album, the songstress from Sacramento is a staple in a scene which brings together fans of post metal, doom, drone, folk and something else, a fascinating cocktail which proves to be a success album after album.
The show, originally planned in the castle’s park, was moved to Resolution Square, in the city centre, a worthy location thanks also to various lights projected on the Austrian-styled façades. As openers of the evening, the young trio Brutus from Belgium.
I must admit, after listening to the debut album by Brutus to have a glimpse of their music, the first impression wasn’t the best possible: determined to verify it, my curiosity was pretty high for Stefanie, Stijn and Peter‘s performance. The Leuven-based trio, with their first album “Burst” (following three EPs), move along the (post)hardcore, DIY path, reminding of names such as their fellow Belgians Oathbreaker, Converge and others, but their music is home to some shoegaze-ish openings as well.
Unfortunately, as good as the premises were for those who digs well these bands, something is missing: aside from the perfomance itself, especially for singer/drummer Stefanie, the songs are aggressive, yet they lack some edge and often result in riffs and tempos more or less complicated, which struggle to find a resolution. The young age obviously plays in their favour and, as already said, the stylistic foundations are undoubtedly good, so we hope in a future rematch both on record and, why not, in a live performance again.
Justice De Julia II
A few minutes more than expected before Chelsea Wolfe and her mates – the great rhythm section composed of Ben Chisholm (bass and synths) and Jess Gowrie (drums), plus guitarist Bryan Tulao – entered the stage, while the audience was more and more worried by a few rain drops which, luckily, revealed themselves to be just temporary. Wolfe’s latest album moves along the same path of its predecessor, the incredible “Abyss“, and it’s these two albums that will dominate this evening’s setlist. The intro “Welt” takes us to the classic “Carrion Flowers“, one of the main dishes, with its high intensity benefiting from perfect sounds, since the very beginning. Chisholm’s bass is full, angry, hand in hand with the martial rhythms articulated by the drums with which serves as a foundation for Wolfe’s ethereal voice. The band picks a lot from “Hiss Spun“, with eight out of twelve tracks played: from an amped up version of “Vex“, where Chisholm delights us with some growling as well, to the (not entirely) delicate “Twin Fawn“, with other great pieces like “16 Psyche” and “Spun“.
The atmosphere is intimate, heartfelt, lights perfectly in line with the music and the band’s mood, with Chelsea extremely timid and discreet towards the numerous crowd, to which she hums some thanks every now and then. Absolute highlights, besides the already named ones, are definitely “Dragged Out“, with its bell rings echoing through the town’s small streets, and the only two spots granted to past works: “Feral Love“, with its electronic shades, and the more indie/alternative tone of “Demons“. The closing, after a brief pause and “Survive“, relies on the cathartic “Scrape“, during which the singer finally lets herself go in a state of semi-trance before saying goodbye to a mesmerized audience, aware of having witnessed to an experience rather than a mere concert.
After The Fall