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LA WEEKLY Cover Story on Chelsea Wolfe out now
Chelsea Wolfe is looking at a picture of herself. It’s on the cover of the deluxe vinyl version of her new album, which is out this week. She’s seeing it now for the first time, sitting at the dining room table at the Echo Park home of her record label, Sargent House. The photo shows her standing in a bright spotlight against a black background, attired in a scorching red vintage dress. She wears dark lipstick and holds a piercing gaze through black-lined eyes, yet her shoulders are slightly hunched, her pale arms clasped tightly to her midriff as she clutches her elbows with the opposite hands. It’s the body language of a strange, tall girl at a middle-school dance, just after her growth spurt. “There I am in the spotlight,” she says between drags of a cigarette, “looking a little uncomfortable.”
photo by Kristin Cofer
The shot is well chosen, least of all because it’s gorgeous; it also perfectly encapsulates this moment in Wolfe’s career. It depicts the downtown dweller emerging from her shadowy goth-folk stage and forging her status as a sophisticated figure with a crystallized point of view, succinctly spelled out in the album’s title, which floats in crimson, doom-metal typeface above her black-maned head: Pain Is Beauty.
LA WEEKLY Live Review: Chelsea Wolfe’s sold out show at First Unitarian Church 2/18/2013
Better Than… staring into the Nietzschean abyss.
Chelsea Wolfe embraces darkness, seems to live by it, even. “Dark” is the best way to describe last year’s Apokalypsis, an album that won accolades for melding black metal and American roots music, among other things.
In support of her recently released Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, Wolfe played an acoustic set at the First Unitarian Church on Friday. Because of her influences (black metal is known for its aggressively anti-christian theology) and the less-than-pious image she has cultivated, there was perhaps some incongruity between the artist and the venue. Nonetheless, Wolfe demonstrated that her music is certainly not devoid of spirituality.