by Tony Hamera
I’m going to go “off the board” with my choice for best guitar work, and that’s the song “Mer” by Chelsea Wolfe from her 2010 album Apokcalypsis. Some have described her sound as “21st Century Gothic,” and “Haunted Avant Garde,” and those are fairly accurate but do not fully describe her brilliance and creativity. As a guitar player, I am always looking at the whole of compositions, rather than the solos or certain parts in particular; Wolfe’s compositions (along with her guitar playing) are fully formed, interesting to listen to, and very intense. With absolutely no nods to the past, her sound and compositions are new and modern. She has quickly become one of my more recent favorite artists. So let’s look at the song Mer more closely:
First, the guitar is tuned down one whole-step; this adds to the darkness, intensity, and creepiness. The main feel of the guitar part is an arpeggiated pattern that seems to follow no key signature, but tonality becomes apparent when tied into the vocal melodies. Here is an example of a few bars:
The bends on the octave (the 3rd of the chord) adds a second dimension of intensity and ups the creep factor. This feel continues throughout the song, going up and down the neck outlining different chord structures and minor/major tonalities. The tribal drum part, bass lines, and the rest serve to strengthen the guitar and vocal parts, as they should. As with most music I love, it’s really about the whole, rather than the individual parts.
That’s all for my analysis, I hope you found it insightful and maybe found something new to listen to. The only thing equal to her sound is her visual aesthetic, which you can see here in the video for “Mer”:
Tony Hamera has been a guitar player and ring leader for over 30 years. He’s a graduate of The Recording Institute of Detroit and audio engineer/producer for 25 years. Tony has worked on hundreds of demo/album projects of his own as well as many local Detroit and national acts. He currently performs in The Blueflowers, and past acts include Ether Aura, Firewerk, Deathgirl.com, Caelum Bliss, Noc Barrage and Fatal.