This year’s International Tournament of Witchy Women in Rock is entering its final phase, and the brackets are quickly narrowing. Florence Welch, of Florence & the Machine, has easily established herself as The New Stevie Nicks. Natasha Khan, of Bat for Lashes, has a solid hold on the title The New Kate Bush. But things are in flux over at the battle to be crowned The New Siouxsie Sioux. For a couple of years, the smart money was on Nika Danilova, aka Zola Jesus, who belts out doom in a deep, operatically trained alto. But she now has some hot competition from Chelsea Wolfe, a singer and bandleader who whites out her eyes on her album covers and performs onstage with an Egyptian ankh glued to her forehead.
Wolfe’s music sometimes gets labeled “doom folk,” but that’s just clever marketing. Let’s call it what it is: Goth. And it’s not the dark industrial-metal-dance-version of Goth we’ve been hearing since the advent of Marilyn Manson. Neither is it the dark art-rock of Zola Jesus. Wolfe’s is a kind of ur-Goth, a semi-acoustic take on the early ’80s sound that launched a thousand bottles of blue-black hair dye. Her tracks “Mer” and “The Wasteland” would have fit right in on Siouxsie & the Banshees’ genre-defining Juju. Were you to put “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” on a playlist after Wolfe’s “Demons,” Bauhaus would sound hopelessly unserious in comparison.
Wolfe’s recent Apokalypsis has enough spooky creaking sounds, eerie whispers, and blood-curdling screams to set the soundtrack for next October’s haunted-house tour, and that’s just in the space between songs. The songs themselves are even more ghostly. And when you’re in the right mood, they’re wonderful.
Black Heart Procession also performs.
CHELSEA WOLFE: The Casbah, Friday, December 2, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $12 advance, $14 day of show.