In one of the eeriest moments from The Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis jacks up the volume on an old recording to make out the voice of a frantic, sobbing ghost. Chelsea Wolfe used a scratching 8-track hiss to similar haunting effect on last year’s lo-fi debut The Grime And The Glow, but decided to go to a studio for the follow-up, Apokalypsis. The result is a record that—with its echoing doom-and-gloom soundscapes—is much closer to the bleak craft already practiced by PJ Harvey, Scout Niblett, and others. As moody drone-folk goes, Wolfe is a successful newcomer: Across the album, minor keys drift through hypnotic, ambient noise before plunging into churning distortion. The record’s most captivating tracks, like “Pale On Pale,” slow things down, sinisterly building with each heave and lurch, like the musical equivalent of throbbing hot coals.
Opening with the 25-second beastly snarl of “Primal/Carnal” and seeping through songs like “Demons” and “The Wasteland,” Apokalypsis’ foreboding atmosphere is poured on thick; perhaps too much so, as what is initially entrancing eventually becomes overbearing. Wolfe’s goth experimentalism is certainly harrowing stuff, but it’s missing the chilling detachment and roughness that made The Grime And The Glow feel dark in unfamiliar and unsettling ways.