Hiss Spun

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Hiss Spun
Hiss Spun-CW.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 22, 2017
StudioGodCity Studio
(Salem, Massachusetts)
LabelSargent House
  • Chelsea Wolfe
  • Ben Chisholm
Chelsea Wolfe chronology
Hiss Spun
Birth of Violence

Hiss Spun is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, released on September 22, 2017, by Sargent House.[1] The album was recorded in Salem, Massachusetts, at the studio of Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou.[2] Produced by Wolfe and Ben Chisholm, the album also features guitar contributions from Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age and a guest appearance from Aaron Turner of Isis.[3]

Hiss Spun received positive reviews from music critics, and peaked at No. 146 on the Billboard 200, becoming her second consecutive album to enter the chart.


In an interview for Noisey, Wolfe explained that the album's topics deal with her confronting various health issues: "I deal with extreme anxiety that gets exacerbated by bouts of insomnia [...] I’m constantly trying to find ways to calm down… That has manifested into addiction at times [and] I carried a lot of that into this record, especially on '16 Psyche' and 'Spun'."[4]

Wolfe also disclosed that the album had been about coming to terms with issues both familial and personal. In the interview, she stated that "there were some things I hadn't dealt with before, from the dark past of my family, to relationships I'd had, to my own health, some of the songs became a personal exorcism and some of them were written in dedication to the hardships that others have faced."[4]


Wolfe announced Hiss Spun on June 14, 2017, coinciding with the release of "16 Psyche" as the first single from the album. NPR simultaneously released an article reviewing the song and previewing the album, whereupon writer Paula Mejia wrote, "The impetus for Hiss Spun stemmed from a reckoning with family history, personal life and other elements that have long shadowed Wolfe, and the resulting escapist music also functions as a kind of exorcism, an expunging of the soul. But what "16 Psyche" especially goes to show is that despite what's going on in our own worlds and the one at large, the discovery of new ones — whether they're made of fire or ice or even metal — is a worthy pursuit, and certainly one worth fighting for."[5]

On July 5, Wolfe released a trailer for the album and announced dates for a North American tour with Youth Code in support of the album.[6][7]

"Vex" was the second track to be released from the album. Wolfe unveiled the song on July 27, revealing the contributions by Van Leeuwen and Turner.[8] In a letter published by The Fader on August 2, Wolfe described the process she went through to create the song: "'Vex' began almost as a black metal song, with a pummeling blast beat, then Ben (Chisholm) and I stripped it back to a more industrial electronic sound. Once we were in the studio, Jess Gowrie's drums and Troy Van Leeuwen's guitar parts began to shepherd it back toward its heavy origins... I knew from the beginning that I wanted Aaron Turner's voice somewhere on this album, and could hear him in my head on 'Vex'. I had already recorded my vocals for the song but decided to send it to Aaron without them on. Happily, the first time we played it back with both vocal parts they fit together in a very compelling way."[9]

A promotional video was released for "16 Psyche" on August 14, accompanied by the Noisey interview.[10] Wolfe revealed two more of the album's tracks shortly before its release, with both "The Culling" and "Offering" being made available online on September 7.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The A.V. ClubC+[15]
Financial Times[17]
The Irish Times[18]
Record Collector[21]
Slant Magazine[22]

Hiss Spun received universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 19 reviews.[13] Journalist Sam Shepherd praised the album in his review for MusicOMH, noting: "While Wolfe's incredible vocals are the main draw, her long term collaborator Ben Chisholm deserves significant recognition too. Not only does his fuzzed-to-fuck bass make these songs feel genuinely threatening, his manipulation of sound and creation of washes and collages provides unsettling backgrounds for Wolfe to weave her magic over. Without him, the oppressive atmospherics of the album wouldn't be nearly as effective."[24] Similarly, The Skinny's Adam Turner-Heffer wrote, "Ballou's signature crushing heaviness may have become a cliché in some circles, but paired with Wolfe's beautiful voice and brilliant writing, it's a match made in heaven."[25] AllMusic critic Heather Phares wrote, "Both fierce and fragile, Hiss Spun presents an artist in compelling control of the entire scope of her expression."[14] Emma Madden of Drowned in Sound said, "Though Hiss Spun probably won't end up as the best of her career, it may well be Wolfe's best so far."[26]

Pitchfork's Saby Reyes-Kulkarni stated that with Hiss Spun, Wolfe "dives headfirst into sludge metal and creates a unique space where sweetness can be heavy and contact is always uncomfortable".[20] Luke Cartledge of The Line of Best Fit rated the album 8.5 out of 10, remarking, "Wolfe has never shied away from the heavy, the metallic, but this is her first record to fully embrace the extremities offered by doom and experimental metal".[27] Josh Goller of Slant Magazine noted that "though it may be her second consecutive album to lean heavily on metal, Hiss Spun deftly incorporates a diverse range of sounds."[22] Exclaim!'s Matt Yuyitung stated that "listening to Hiss Spun is a punishing affair, but it's a rewarding one too. It's the sound of an artist not afraid to dig deep emotionally, and that challenges the listener to do so as well."[16]

In a more mixed review, Alex McLevy from The A.V. Club stated that "Hiss Spun is a full-on sludge-metal extravaganza, never content to go slow and heavy when it could be going slower and heavier. The bombast is overwhelming, and while there's an admirable zeal to her drive for making almost every second as intense as possible, it begins to get numbing."[15]


Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
Drowned in Sound Drowned in Sound's Favorite Albums of 2017
The Independent Top 20 Rock & Metal Albums of 2017
Kerrang! Kerrang!'s Albums of 2017
Louder Than War Top 100 Albums of 2017
Revolver 20 Best Albums of 2017
State State's Albums of 2017

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Chelsea Wolfe.

2."16 Psyche"4:18
5."The Culling"6:01
6."Particle Flux"4:53
7."Twin Fawn"6:07
9."Static Hum"4:21
11."Two Spirit"5:04
Total length:48:19


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Hiss Spun.[34]

  • Chelsea Wolfe – vocals, production, guitar (tracks 2, 4, 9)
  • Ben Chisholm – production, guitar (tracks 1–3, 6, 7, 9, 10), bass (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12), electronics (tracks 4–6, 8, 10), keyboards (track 2), piano (track 10)
  • Aaron Turner – vocals (track 3)
  • Kurt Ballou – guitar (track 7), recording
  • Troy Van Leeuwen – guitar (tracks 1–3, 8, 11)
  • Bryan Tulao – guitar (tracks 5, 9)
  • Christopher Orr – guitar (track 11)
  • Jess Gowrie – drums (tracks 1–3, 5–9, 11, 12)
  • Ezra Buchla – viola (track 4)
  • Travis Brooks – sounds (track 11)
  • Alan Douches – mastering
  • John Crawford – art direction, design
  • Corey Holms – typography
  • Bill Crisafi – photography, hair typography
  • Muted Fawn – collage
  • Cathy Pellow – management


Chart (2017) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[35] 95
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[36] 95
New Zealand Heatseekers Albums (RMNZ)[37] 4
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[38] 92
US Billboard 200[39] 146
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[40] 10
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[41] 18
US Top Hard Rock Albums (Billboard)[42] 9
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[43] 27


  1. ^ Mejia, Paula (June 14, 2017). "Songs We Love: Chelsea Wolfe, '16 Psyche'". NPR. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Bushell, Glen (June 14, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe Announces New Album, 'Hiss Spun'". Punktastic. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe: New Album Announced, New Song Released, New Tour Dates Announced!". MetalSucks. June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  4. ^ a b London, Dianca (August 14, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe's New Album Finds Stability in Chaos". Vice Media. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  5. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Premiers '16 Psyche' on NPR". NPR. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe 'Hiss Spun' Album Trailer". chelseawolfe.net. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  7. ^ Fancher, Nick (June 14, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe Shares New Song '16 Psyche' from Upcoming Album Hiss Spun: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  8. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe – Vex // Pitchfork". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  9. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Unveils New Track // "Vex"". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  10. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe's "16 Psyche" Music Video Premiere on Noisey". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  11. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Releases 'The Culling'". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  12. ^ "Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Reviews and Tracks for Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe". Metacritic. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Hiss Spun – Chelsea Wolfe". AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  15. ^ a b McLevy, Alex (September 20, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe doubles down on darkness for Hiss Spun". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Yuyitung, Matt (September 20, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  17. ^ Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic (September 22, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun — 'guitars and industrial beats'". Financial Times. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  18. ^ Murphy, Lauren (September 21, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe review: Wild, weird and intoxicating". The Irish Times. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  19. ^ Aston, Martin (December 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun". Mojo (289): 94.
  20. ^ a b Reyes-Kulkarni, Saby (October 3, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  21. ^ Hamnett, Alun (November 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun". Record Collector (472). Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Goller, Josh (September 15, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  23. ^ Wray, Daniel Dylan (October 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun". Uncut (245): 107.
  24. ^ Shepherd, Sam (September 22, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun". MusicOMH. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  25. ^ Turner-Heffer, Adam (September 18, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun". The Skinny. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
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  28. ^ "Drowned in Sound's Favorite Albums of 2017". Drowned in Sound. December 3, 2017. Archived from the original on November 23, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  29. ^ "The top 20 rock & metal albums of 2017". The Independent. December 8, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  30. ^ "Kerrang!'s Albums of 2017". Kerrang!. December 29, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "Louder Than War Issue 13 – Best of 2017". Vive Le Rock. December 1, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  32. ^ "20 Best Albums of 2017". Revolver. December 5, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  33. ^ "State's Albums of 2017". State. December 19, 2017. Archived from the original on March 2, 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  34. ^ Hiss Spun (CD liner notes). Chelsea Wolfe. Sargent House. 2017.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
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  36. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  37. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. October 2, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  38. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun". Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  39. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  40. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  41. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Chart History (Top Alternative Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  42. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Chart History (Top Hard Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  43. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2017.