The short hand to describe Mrs. Piss would be to say that it’s Chelsea Wolfe gone punk – but there’s a little more to dig into here. 'Self-Surgery' is the culmination of a collaborative rekindling between Wolfe and drummer Jess Gowrie, over a decade after the pair first came together as part of short-lived Sacramento grunge trio Red Host. Although they’ve been reunited since the former’s 2017 LP 'Hiss Spun' - Gowrie playing drums on that record and subsequent Chelsea Wolfe albums and live shows - Mrs. Piss sees the percussionist come out of her more celebrated musical partner’s shadow.
Wolfe’s unmistakeable vocal is of course all over this record, ranging from a full-throated cry that lacerates the two-minute apocalyptic punk burst of 'Downers Surrounded By Uppers', to growling and toiling amidst the turbulent depths of the Knelt’s chugging doom metal. Knelt’s a real highlight in fact, featuring as it does some satisfyingly chunky guitar riffs; although the title track of 'Self-Surgery' among others ensures it’s not alone in that. As much as anything, this is a record that reminds you – after last year’s folkier LP 'Birth Of Violence' - that Wolfe is a fucking great heavy guitarist.
Gowrie, though, adds the nuance – or as much nuance as can be found in a record that, at around 20 minutes in total, is more a visceral blow out than anything overly considered. The programmed industrial burbles that menacingly underpin 'Nobody Wants To Party With Us' add flesh to the taut bone and muscle of the track, while the thick scuzzy bass tones of 'You Took Everything' jolt it down its blackened path. Her drumming drives Self-Surgery’s eight tracks with a frenzied energy as opposed a stoical forward push, meaning that the record frequently becomes a battleground between sludgier elements and more high tempo thrash.
Overall 'Self-Surgery' bristles with promise rather than complete realisation. As a raw one-off release it’s a breathless listen; the hope is, though, that the duo may return and build on this project in the future.
Words: Simon Jay Catling
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