Death Gospel – women exploring darkness in unique ways
October 3, 2020 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Reluctant as I am to slapping a label on a subset of women making music with some stylistic similarity, let's talk about Death Gospel. This article in Metal Hammer talks about Chelsea Wolfe, Louise Lemón, AA Williams and Emma Ruth Rundle, saying "an influx of singer-songwriters has been infiltrating… and reinventing the idea of what constitutes heavy music… embracing darkness in a raw, visceral way, pushing boundaries of genre and style". (Don't be put off by the repeated use of the term 'metal', this is strong, powerful music, but not really metal.)

The article is well worth the read, (and addresses the pitfalls of labelling female artists).
Here are some choice tracks:

Chelsea Wolfe:
16 Psyche

Louise Lemón:
Egyptian Darkness

AA Williams:
Be Quiet and Drive

Emma Ruth Rundle:
The Valley (colab with Thou)
And, because she's a killer guitarist, a rundown of her rig.

TLDR: come for the frank discussion of pain, loss and death with dark folk/gothy vocals, stay for the massive ambient guitar.
posted by signal (15 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Chelsea Wolfe is magnificent. I absolutely love Color of Blood.
posted by dng at 3:19 PM on October 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Wolfe's Pain Is Beauty and Rundle's Marked for Death are two of the best albums of the last decade.
posted by sinfony at 7:08 PM on October 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

whether you gatekeep their music in or out of metal, I see a ton of enthusiasm for these folks in the metal community, my corner of it is super into these folks, particularly ERR.

Always great to see fresh new sounds colonize a space.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:43 PM on October 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

A lot of this stuff is really cool (haven't come across Lemon before, will check her out) but I'm also really not sold on "death gospel" as a gerne, because 'gospel' seems like a complete non sequitur, and possibly somewhat appropriative as a result?
posted by Dysk at 1:00 AM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mentioned in the article, but not in the post is Anna von Hausswolff who's also well worth listening to - see Funeral For My Future Children, Ugly and Vengeful, and Sacro Bosco for example. A quote from a Guardian piece about her a couple of years ago: 'It is entirely predictable that Von Hausswolff regularly encounters surprise at the fact that a petite, blonde, exuberant woman plays doom rock on an instrument the size of a bungalow. “That’s what I hear all the time,” she says'.
posted by misteraitch at 1:15 AM on October 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm thrown, too, by 'gospel' and TFA (the fine article) spends a lot of time on labels. Were the authors bullied away from playing DnD as kids or had their first-born threatened with substitution if they called it 'dark elvish', 'Drow' or 'Fae'?

Ultimately: thanks for the recommendation of music I'd not know to look out for.
posted by k3ninho at 1:26 AM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am super stoked to listen to these on a long drive today. I'm sure some will land for me and others won't, but either way it'll be super cool. Thanks!

(I'm gonna check back for more recs, if anyone has similar)
posted by ChrisR at 8:55 AM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ooooh, I love music like this but have never heard the label Death Gospel before. Thanks for that.

I wanna throw in Mamiffer to the recommendations. They've been pretty essential in my collection in the last few years. They've got a warm soothing and dark ambient sound. I especially cycle through them in the fall/winter. Great for long drives, taking baths, and generally staring at the ceiling.

Mamiffer - Flower of the Field
Mamiffer - Mercy II
Mamiffer - Statu Nascendi (full album)

Not exactly death gospel but here's an elaborate ritual to get lost in, if ya haven't already:
Heilung - Krigsgaldr
posted by weepingquail at 11:39 AM on October 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also mentioned briefly in the article is Marissa Nadler, who is great. Her collaboration with Stephen Brodsky, Droneflower, is excellent.

Also Chelsea Wolfe put out a killer punk record this year with Jess Gowrie as Mrs. Piss if you're into the heavier stuff.
posted by sinfony at 4:27 PM on October 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

Also came to recommend Marissa Nadler, beat to it.

I’ll instead mention Lingua Ignota, which... if the above are “death gospel”, I’d call Lingua Ignota “black Gregorian chant”, but that completely undersells how sui generis she is. Truly amazing and challenging and powerful.

FWIW, I’ve been listening to a number of these artists for a few years and this is the first I’ve heard “death gospel” as a term and I hate it. They’re great artists but it’s such a weird term.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 8:19 PM on October 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

All of these great female artists are clearly inspired and influenced by Jarboe. It’s great to see.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:45 AM on October 5, 2020

Touch wood, we are going to see Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle (TOGETHER!) in Brisbane in I think July next year. Hyped!

I've had Darkhorse pretty much on repeat since March.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2020

I saw Chelsea Wolfe play the Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania a few years ago. Utterly hypnotic. And so loud the paint flaked off the ceiling.

I discovered Emma Ruth Rundle when YouTube recommended her 2016 Audiotree Live session as I was binging on Chelsea Wolfe videos. I find it funny that she says “I don’t think people are listening because they think I have a nice voice” in the article, because it was the power of her voice that grabbed me.

Wolfe and Rundle were meant to be touring Australia this year, until this whole pandemic thing happened.

Does anyone else find it weird how the article refers to the artists by their first names?
posted by davidwitteveen at 4:17 AM on October 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I didn't until you pointed it out, and then I did, since I fancy whenever I've read an article about a bloke it quotes them using their surname. But then I glanced through another Feature piece about Metallica on the site, and it refers to them all using their first names, so...maybe it's cool? Maybe it's a Metal Hammer thing?
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:44 PM on October 6, 2020

I didn't realize there was a whole (sub?)genre like this. I'd only been familiar with Chelsea Wolfe in this lot. Going to be checking out all these artists!
posted by DyRE at 3:25 PM on October 13, 2020

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