Pain Is Beauty is the fourth studio album from American singer-songwriter and eponymous band, Chelsea Wolfe released on September 3, 2013 in CD, vinyl, and digital download formats through Sargent House.
Thematically, Pain Is Beauty is said to be largely about idealistic love. Though Wolfe has also stated “It’s not a conceptual album. There’s a lot of different things it’s about: it’s about ancestry, it’s about nature, it’s about tormented love and sort of overcoming the odds.
Wolfe has crafted an impeccable release here, building upon her existing methods and evolving as a songwriter. Things feel more confident – there’s more energy and oomph.
There’s a lot of different themes on this album.” According to Wolfe, the red dress she is wearing on the album cover represents volcanic lava. Regarding the album title, Wolfe shared, “…there’s always gonna be situations that we go through that are really hard and we just have to kind of be strong, and if we get through to the other side, then we become wiser people and our lives become more beautiful.”
Her newest release, Pain is Beauty, takes listeners to the highest of highs, all thanks to Wolfe’s willingness to get low and descend even further into the gloom-hole.
Wolfe has cited an array of artists and specific genres as influences, including black metal and Scandinavian folk music, but has said: “I do have a hard time sticking to one genre, and honestly I prefer it that way. I’d rather be free to experiment and make the kind of art I want to make than be easy to define.” Various critics have noted elements of doom, drone, black metal, gothic rock, folk and dark ambient in her music.
Bleak, distant, polarizing, and beautiful, Wolfe’s fourth album makes a gargantuan impact.
In regards to her vocals, Wolfe has said: “I think deep down I wish I had one of those really gritty voices like Kurt Cobain, so maybe I’m making up for it with distorted guitars.” Wolfe has also cited the visual elements of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and photographer Nan Goldin as influences on her.
Allmusic (4/5 stars)
Consequence of Sound (4/5 stars)
The New York Times (Favorable)
Chelsea Wolfe is an American singer-songwriter from Sacramento, California, currently based in Los Angeles. She is known for her “specific brand of drone-metal-art-folk”, characterized by experimental guitar playing, hazy vocals, and surreal soundscapes.