Chelsea Wolfe & Russian Circles breathed life into Music Box on Wednesday, October 3rd as a part of their joint tour of the Western United States.
Russian Circles are a Chicago post-rock trio who create devastatingly heavy guitarwork backed by an insistent, rhythmic pulse. It only takes a cursory listen to grasp the suitability of the word epic to Russian Circles’ music. Their riffs are powerful, the drumwork is unforgiving, and the song structures are crafted to convey a sense of catharsis as they carry the listener in and between climaxes. This intensity was only amplified live, and Russian Circles deserve kudos for keeping the energy level dialed to an 11 for the entirety of their set.
California native Chelsea Wolfe has made a name for herself through her unique vocals and imaginative blending of disparate genres. Pairing Russian Circles with Chelsea Wolfe worked as a display of contrast; Whereas Russian Circles have crafted a very consistent sound, Chelsea Wolfe is the very definition of eclectic. Her doom metal influence intertwines with gothic imagery and soundscape, all built upon a folk and singer-songwriter heritage. Chelsea Wolfe’s thoroughly haunting vocals tie her music together. At times reminiscent of the vocals of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons or Soap&Skin’s Anja Plaschg, Wolfe nevertheless distinguishes herself through impeccable control and a diversity of vocal styles as broad as her manifold influences.
There were plenty of moments where drawn-out crescendos led to climactic, cathartic release – plenty of moments to mirror Russian Circles’ brand of satisfyingly heavy chugging. But the most impacting moments were those of silence, of minimalism. Those moments where Chelsea Wolfe sang alone, demonstrating her impeccable vocal control as she manipulated the heart strings of the audience. Towards the close, Wolfe’s extended version of Halfsleeper was the major highlight of the show, inducing reverie and leading me to all-but forget where I was as I was enveloped by the serenade. It was undoubtedly an epic way to spend a Wednesday night.