Fans of the dark and intense artistry of Chelsea Wolfe are about to be treated to another facet of the singer’s repertoire, coming in the form of the antagonistically titled project Mrs. Piss. Featuring both Wolfe and her solo band’s Percussionist Jess Gowrie, Self-Surgery is an album which sees both women letting their hair down and letting it rip. Appearing via Sargent House Records on May 29th, 2020, the album reunites the two musicians as a creative pair, something they have not done together in years. Brief, bursting with energy, and loud as an explosion in an alley, how will this work strike fans of Wolfe’s more established body of work?
For starters, the music for Self-Surgery appears to have been written during the sessions for 2017’s Hiss Spun, an album that displayed a penchant for noise, industrial soundscapes, and distortion. After a brief, percussive and slightly hysterical intro, and the statement that ‘we are bathing in the filth of the world,’ the listener is ushered into the driving, Punk-infused arms of “Downer Surrounded By Uppers.” Wolfe’s voice is as mysterious and bewitching as on any of her solo albums. Combined with the belligerence of the music, the result is a fantastic, horror-tinged journey into night. The comparably sedate “Knelt” once more shows Wolfe’s ability to create really heavy waves of sound with bass tones and orchestral bursts, bolstered by the brash drumming style of Gowrie.
Wolfe turns pain and anger into an intoxicating whirlwind on “Nobody Wants To Party With Us,” where matte Black Industrial tones converge upon a Punk Rock heartbeat. “M.B.O.T.W.O” at only a minute and twenty-two seconds, conjures more of that Plasmatics feel. A super strong bass presence helps lubricate Gowrie’s top-notch drumming, all the while allowing Wolfe’s peerless vocals to anoint the listener.
The filthy pulse of the album renders a Death-meets-Grunge feel on “You Took Everything,” with a sinister groove and a whole lot of attitude whereby the music feels spontaneous and yet still finely crafted. The title-track is more beholden to Wolfe’s vocal range, with massive bass-lines and times where it pounds and times where it soothes. All of this is carefully caged into less than three minutes’ playing time, demonstrating some serious mastery over how the song flows into and out of its life cycle. If a Chelsea Wolfe performance was ever going to incite a mosh pit, here would be the place and time. This continues right through the eponymous track, where both Wolfe and Gowrie are rocking out like the bad-asses they are. Catchy, fist-pumping Punk energy brought to you by two veterans whose musical backgrounds are as diverse as they are professional.
Because Chelsea Wolfe’s music has featured moments both dulcet and devastating, and because her voice has both soothed and scintillated her listeners, nothing on Self-Surgery will necessarily take fans aback. Wolfe emerged from exactly this multitude of musical influences, and here she shows the world that unrestrained fury crackles like electricity between her black-nailed fingers. The only possible complaint would be that this brackish, blistering journey is over too quickly. Hopefully, if Wolfe and Gowrie write another one, it will be a bit longer. Nevertheless, for truly showing us the spikes beneath the velvet of her voice, Cryptic Rock gives Self-Surgery 4.5 out of 5 stars.