Chelsea Wolfe’s album “Pain Is Beauty” is epic, bold, ethereal and beautiful. This is a full fledged, fully realized rock album, covering all the gothic torch-bearing attributes one could ever hope to find in one album.
The instrument selection bounces around a fair bit song to song, but it does not distract from the cohesiveness of the overall composition. A few songs use pulsing electronics with programmed percussion, where others use organic drum kits. Strings ebb and flow and each song creates its own unique palette of sounds.
Each song has a sublime yet tenebrous quality to it, but it bounces around stylistically. The fourth track, “The Warden”, starts out with a pulsing electronic rhythm and slowly opens up into a song that would be at home on a 1980’s album by The Legendary Pink Dots. Except, of course, minus the enigmatic Edward Ka-spel and add the mysteriously haunting Chelsea Wolfe, whose ghostly voice carries the strength of the song. “The Warden” transitions into “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter”, a more up-tempo piece that would sit comfortably on the soundtrack for “Twin Peaks”. This type of surreal juxtaposition occurs a few times, and it is never jarring: The album moves on and you are pulled deep into Chelsea Wolfe’s dark, haunted world.
Chelsea Wolfe’s “Pain Is Beauty” is one of the very best albums of 2013. Its also one of the best from her own catalog, which is a formidable feat in itself, since all of her albums are similarly amazing. The strong composition, the strength of Wolfe’s voice and the extremely tight production push the album into remarkable territories. This is an album you’ll listen to on repeat.