We have found ourselves at that time of the week again dear listeners. With only a few short weeks left in the year, now is about the time for scrambling to finish work projects and deal with last minute holiday gift shopping. It’s a time when many people, myself included, find themselves in over their head. So this week’s pick is something on the milder side, to give us all a bit of a break from the intensity of life. The Metal: Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss. The Booze: Modern Times Brewing Company’s Haunted Stars.
The Metal: Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss
Now I can already hear what you’re saying: “But Vince! Chelsea Wolfe isn’t metal! You are FALSE and a POSER!” True, as a whole, her musical catalog tends towards gloomy pop music, which I also love wholeheartedly. Abyss, however, is absolutely Chelsea Wolfe’s metal album. More aggressive by far than any previous work, Abyss expands the songstress’ formula to include the fuzzed out guitars (played by Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan no less) and plodding tempos of doom metal alongside tinges of industrial menace. Tracks like “After the Fall” and opener “Carrion Flowers” seethe and pulse, driven by Godflesh-esque drum sequencing, while “Dragged Out” and “Color of Blood” sound like Electric Wizard’s goth cousin. All these influences are tempered and made cohesive by Wolfe’s haunting vocal performance, which takes center stage of the album. Abyss washes over and envelops the listener with its lonesome and eerie atmosphere; it truly feels as dark as its name implies. This was one of my favorite albums from last year and one that still connects deeply with me today. And yes, it is metal.
The Booze: Modern Times Brewing Company’s Haunted Stars
San Diego, California’s Modern Times Brewing Company is a brewery that I am relatively new to, but one that has yet to disappoint me. Haunted Stars is an imperial rye porter, and while this is the first time I am trying this particular brew, I can honestly say this will be one I hunt for from now on. Huge on flavor, as expected from an imperial, Haunted Stars hits with huge notes of chocolate and malt upon the initial sip. The rye in the mix serves less as a focal point and more to give the porter a backbone, lending a pleasing spiciness to the finish and accentuating the caramel and chocolate notes in the flavor profile. The body of the drink is pleasingly rich too, which helps cement this as a great after dinner beer. While this is only a special release, I certainly hope this is a brew that will come back again soon. In the meantime, I may have to hunt down a few more bottles…
So that concludes another week. I’ve enjoyed a relaxing evening with a great beer and a great album. Hopefully you all reading this have, or are about to, do the same. And even if you don’t enjoy the beverages that inspire this column, I hope reading this has reminded you to take some time for yourself to relax in whatever way suits you best.
Cheers, and be good to each other,