By: Dylan Schink

Chelsea Wolfe | website | facebook |  bandcamp | 

Support: A Dead Forest Index | website

Islington Assembly Hall | November 22, 2015

Despite the blisteringly cold weather and an ever growing list of things that I need to do, I made it to Islington Assembly Hall on Sunday night to see the genre-bending gothic queen, Chelsea Wolfe, with support from the appropriately depressing Kiwi two piece, A Dead Forest Index.

A Dead Forest Index @ The Islington Assembly HallDead Forest Index came out right on time and quickly demonstrated themselves to be a very fitting opener for Chelsea Wolfe. A simple, stripped down, miserable two piece guitar and drums band with an absolutely superb vocalist. They did a fantastic job of setting an overall melancholic mood, but I probably wouldn’t buy a Dead Forest Index album. I just wasn’t sold on the misery. Dead Forest Index were competent and even had moments where they shined, but unfortunately they just don’t stand out in a world running a surplus of depressing guitar bands.

Fast forward and photographer Magda Wrzeszcz and I have polished off the bottle of wine and are awaiting the arrival of some proper despair. The filler playlist, which has been up to this point (probably ironically) rather at odds with the tone of the evening, has changed to some slow ambient electronics, which we all assume is foreshadowing Wolfe’s arrival, which I suppose it did for about fifteen minutes when first chilling notes of ‘Carrion Flowers’ shook the venue. Her band do an incredible job of adapting the song’s heavily electronic production to a rhythm/lead/bass/drums setup, though the gaps are still being filled with backing tracks.

Chelsea Wolfe @ The Islington Assembly HallFrom here, most of her 90 minute set is drawn from Abyss, peppered with selections from Pain is Beauty, most memorably ‘We Hit A Wall’. ‘After The Fall’ stood out most, though not the best song on Abyss, its presence in a live setting is absolutely astounding. Its deceptively soft intro given new level of intimacy by Wolfe’s soft, fragile vocals before it briefly erupts into a deafening cacophony and dropping back down again before a brief flurry of synth noises beckons the second round of apocalyptic, floor shaking noise which seems to go on and on before cutting out as suddenly as it had arrived.

Chelsea Wolfe @ The Islington Assembly HallUnfortunately, there was a low point, which was what I felt was a disappointing performance of ‘Iron Moon’. On the album, ‘Iron Moon’’s impact is derived from its violent and abrupt swings in tone. While the loud, disorientating segments were everything they needed to be, I felt like there was just too much energy in the quiet segments, which damaged the contrast that makes the song work so well on the album.

She ended the set with a chilling performance of ‘Survive’, before returning for ‘Colour of Blood’ and ‘Pale on Pale’, whose heavy riffs provided the perfect closure to the evening. We emerged from Islington Assembly Hall into the bitter cold feeling thoroughly bleak and rattled, which is exactly how it should be.

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