Off the bat: Wow…
Like, “Wow, wow.”
Here, I think Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle may well have created the soundtrack to the earthiest and most elemental of summoning rituals.
Something that takes place in the spookiest, most bleak bog, or backwoods known to man, right around 3 in the morning…
A scene that would have Scooby and Shaggy saying, “Zoinks!”
Before we get to the specifics and brilliance of this tune though, let’s back things up a bit.
I’ve known of Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle for about 5 or 6 years with my introductions to both of their music coming about as a result of their collaborations– Ms. Wolfe’s work with Russian Circles and Deafheaven, and Ms. Rundle’s work as a part of Marriages, and more recently, with Thou.
In all instances, these collaborations have yielded superior work.
“Memorial,” Chelsea Wolfe’s song with instrumental metal titans Russian Circles, is to my ears, music’s defining anthem for a particularly bleak midwestern winter.
Whether or not that was intentional, I have no idea. In any instance, listening to their collaboration, you can see every shade of blue and white that you’d ever bear witness to, deep in the woods of Wisconsin, or Minnesota.
Ever wanted to know what it feels like to breath in that -15 windchill in the name of bearing witness to something beautiful?
Now you do.
“The Valley,” which closes out Emma Ruth Rundle’s first collaborative effort with heavy hitters Thou, contains perhaps, THE HARDEST passage within heavy music recorded since when Geezer Butler and Bill Ward first joined in to accompany Tony Iommi, during the opening passage of, “Into the Void.”
Yes… it’s THAT tough.
For real, when the 6:57 mark rolls around, make sure your mouthguard is in, because otherwise, you’ll be, “spittin chiclets,” as the hockey players say.
Considering how effortlessly these two women situate themselves amongst the heavy, this song is decidedly not that… or, not exactly.
Emotionally, it’s heavy, but there’s no sledgehammer guitar, or ripping spray of rhythmic carnage to be found here.
What the song does have is a highly specific sense of foreboding– musically, the instrumentation bubbles like a concoction within a cauldron, threatening to explode at any moment.
It never does though, and both Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Rundle manage to deliver satisfaction, in spite of that. This is incredibly difficult to do, and my hat is off to them both.
Thematically, this is fitting, considering the song’s title, “Anhedonia,” which is defined as, “inability to feel pleasure.”
There’s no explosion, or release here for a reason– the summoning ritual doesn’t yield a return to the ability to feel pleasure, and things simply wash away, when the song ends.
Both women’s vocal performances here are powerful and haunting. The reverb is appropriately ghostly, and sounds delicious to boot.
As far as I know, this song is a one-off, but I’m really hoping we get a whole album from these two.
If this is any indicator of what their collaboration would sound like, I think we’d all be in for a real treat.