Remember Stabbing Westward? If you were a teen in the 90’s who owned a lot of black t-shirts, then their songs were the anthem to your depression (well, them and NIN). With songs like “What Do I Have To Do?” and “Shame,” Stabbing Westward put themselves on the map as a kickass rock band with a lot of pent up anger. Their first album, Ungod, wasn’t the hugest hit, but the follow-up, Wither, Blister, Burn and Peel put them on a lot of goth kids radars.
Their third album, Darkest Days, is just about the most depressing album I’ve ever listened to, and just about one of my favorite CD’s ever. And, just when I thought the band could do no wrong…along came their self-titled fourth album, Stabbing Westward. Replacing the depressing anger and industrial beats of their previous albums with a more upbeat sound (but still relatively depressing lyrics) was an odd mix that, while not bad, just didn’t sit well with a lot of fans. It took me years to finally appreciate the album and, by then, Stabbing Westward was no more.
Though recent rumors have popped up saying that a Stabbing Westward reunion may be in the cards, the spiritual successor to the band, at least for me, is the band The Dreaming, formed by SW lead singer Christopher Hall. The Dreaming released a number of EP’s online to make money for touring and production of their first full length LP (which took FOREVER to come out – the band formed in 2002, the album released in 2008), Etched in Blood. I always found it surprising that the lead singer of a band like Stabbing Westward seemed to have trouble finding a record deal. Not only that, I was shocked when the band released an EP, stating that the sales of the EP would go to buying them a van to tour in. A van? The lead singer of Stabbing Westward?
To this day, I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with The Dreaming and why they haven’t taken off, at least based on Stabbing Westward’s name. If people buy a frickin Puscifer album because it has Maynard James Keenan on it…what’s up with the issues that The Dreaming is having? In fact, all four online EP’s (The Dreaming, Bonus Tracks, Dreamo, and Club Re-Mixes) are excellent. They capture the essence and feel of Stabbing Westward perfectly. That raw energy perfectly captured, even in the acoustic Dreamo and the Club Re-Mixes.
The problem is that the EP’s are so much better than the Etched in Blood LP. The raw energy and anger that you feel on those albums is lost, and the entire affair, while not bad, feels like it’s been overproduced. There’s just too much of it on the album – you don’t get the anger in the vocals, or the energy of the guitars. Again, I don’t dislike the album, but it was definitely a let down, especially considering half of the tracks, which were perfect when previously released, lose their feel in their final versions. The album actually feels a bit like a cross between the production of Stabbing Westward’s Darkest Days and self-titled albums.
Never heard of either band? Here’s probably the order you should check out their albums:
- Wither Blister Burn and Peel – probably the most accessible of the bunch, with their most commercially known songs
- Darkest Days: God dang this album is amazing…but it’s kind of like watching an episode of Millenium. You will be depressed when it’s over.
- Stabbing Westward: The weakest of Stabbing Westward’s four albums, but it’s still got some catchy tunes.
- Etched in Blood: Though I’d recommend checking out their EP’s if you can find them anywhere.
- Ungod: Their first album. This is a GREAT CD, but the music is more experimental and less commercial.
Have any suggestions for Super Nova Goes Pop? Suggest music, provide feedback, or just shoot the shit with me in the talkback below!