Stabbing Westward has seen lots of ups and downs during the course of its life. Having initially formed more than 35 years ago, the band released four albums and one EP before eventually breaking up in 2002. Almost 15 years after that breakup, the band reunited in 2016, and has been keeping itself busy ever since then. Just this past January, the band released its first new record in 19 years in the form of its new EP Dead and Gone. The five-song record is a strong return for the band, and shows that even with as much time as has passed, the group can still hold its own alongside its counterparts in the electronic-industrial rock community. It is a presentation whose musical arrangements pull from each of the band’s past records and whose lyrical content will connect with its own share of listeners. Each item will be discussed shortly. The record’s production and mixing rounds out its most important elements, and will be addressed later. All things considered, the EP proves itself a strong return from one of the most well-known industrial-electronic rock acts of the 90s, and a presentation that gives audiences real reason to be optimistic about the band’s forthcoming album, which is scheduled for release later this year through COP International.
Stabbing Westward’s recently released EP Dead and Gone is a strong new offering from the band, having come along almost two decades after the release of the band’s then most recent album, it’s 2001 record Stabbing Westward. That is due in part to the songs that make up the record’s body. The EP features five songs, but technically only three of the five are original. The other two are remixes of the record’s title track and of ‘Cold,’ the record’s second song. The thing that gives this EP a pass unlike other EPs is that while the noted remixes are just that, they are still original works in their own right. The ‘Dead and Gone’ (Stoneburner Remix) is proof of why the remixes deserve their own share of applause and attention. The remix does stay true to its source material, but adds so much more to it in the process. Case in point is the use of the extra electronics and the guitars that are added in to the composition. The echo effect that is used on front man Christopher Hall’s vocals and the steady, driving bass drum beat that is incorporated adds an extra touch to the song. The same can be said of the aforementioned guitars. They give the song more of an edge that, together with the other added elements, actually makes the remix better than the original. “Stabwalt’s 12” Dance Mix” of ‘Cold’ is deserving of its own praise. This arrangement goes full EDM complete with extra keyboard accents while also staying as true as possible to its source material. The arrangement builds on the very Orgy-esque sound featured in the original song and enhances it even more to make it just as enjoyable as the original, if not more so.
Speaking of that Orgy-influence exhibited in ‘Cold,’ it is fully evident in the original arrangement, complete with the Middle Eastern sound that opens the song. What’s just as interesting about this arrangement — the original arrangement – is that there are elements that make it comparable to works from old school Nine Inch Nails and to certain songs from Gary Numan. Even with those comparisons, the song still boasts its own original identity in and of itself. That ensures listeners will remain engaged and entertained throughout the course of the nearly four-and-a-half-minute opus.
‘Crawl,’ another of the songs featured in this EP, presents its own engaging and entertaining arrangement. The use of the vocal effects, the guitars and keyboards will take listeners back to the band’s early days and even as recent as the noted 2001 self-titled album. In other words, it is a work that will appeal just as much to new audiences as it will to longtime listeners.
‘Dead and Gone,’ the EP’s opener wastes no time grabbing listeners’ attention, with its steady beat, its guitars and keyboards. Right from the song’s outset, the arrangement lends itself to comparisons to Nine Inch Nails’ timeless hit ‘Head Like A Hole’ before easing up slightly in the lead verse. That heaviness from the song’s opening returns in the song’s chorus, returning that comparison. The back and forth of that heavy/soft/heavy/soft/heavy approach does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained here. That is especially the case considering that despite the comparison, the song’s arrangement still boasts its own identity, too. Considering the engagement and entertainment offered through the EP’s arrangements, the record clearly has plenty to offer audiences just in this aspect alone. The EP’s lyrical content adds even more impact to its presentation.
All three of the original songs featured in Dead and Gone focus on one central topic – relationships. The record’s title song would have been a good fit to the band’s self-titled record. That’s because lyrically, by that point, Hall had gone from being more confident and straight forward, demanding love in his lyrics to being more pleading. This song is very much in that vein. He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I failed to realize I’d found everything in you/And like a fool/I took it all for granted/I was too self-absorbed to see the pain I put you through/And you don’t believe in second chances.” He adds in the chorus, “How can I go on/When my last hope is gone/How can I go on/When my last hope is dead and gone.” From there, Hall continues in the song’s second verse, “You were the hope that pulled me through my darkest nights/But every time you needed me, I failed you/no longer want to live the life you’ve left behind/If it means I must face it without you.” The song’s third and final verse continues in very similar fashion, finding its subject once again very pleadingly saying essentially oh-woe-is-me. Given, this is rather self-serving, but it will connect with listeners, as there are those out there who are and have been in a similar situation, so maybe this song will help those people get through those difficult moments.
‘Cold’ is another example of why the song’s relationship-based lyrical themes strengthen the EP’s presentation. Instead of someone who has lost that someone, this time, the song’s subject is lamenting unrequited love. Hall sings from the subject’s vantage point here, “Our first kiss set my soul on fire/Consumed me with a burning desire/inside you, I finally felt whole/When I whispered, ‘I love you’/You froze and said nothing at all.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “It’s a silent scream through my head/I realized that my passion was dead/Inside you, I felt so alone/Like a fool who has fallen in love with an angel of stone.” He adds in the song’s final verse, “The fire that ravaged my soul/is dead now and the ashes are cold.” The song’s chorus adds its own impact to the song, as it finds Hall singing, “How did you get so cold/I can see in your eyes/There’s nothing inside/How did you get so cold.” Again, the song’s subject is relatively clear here. Lots of people have been in the position of this song’s subject; that moment of making that all-important statement in a relationship, but perhaps not getting back the same emotion from one’s partner. Hall does a good job of expressing the emotions and thoughts that fill those who have made that move and have the same result. To that end, it is not a song for everyone, but will connect with its own share of listeners. Keeping that in mind, the combination of the song’s lyrical and musical content does its own work keeping audiences engaged and entertained, even here.
‘Crawl,’ the third of the record’s original works, will find its own unique appeal to audiences, too. This song makes no bones as to its subject matter. The song’s subject openly says to his/her love interest in the song’s chorus, “I would beg/I would plead/I would crawl/On my hands and knees/To try to restore your faith in me.” The subject even goes so far as to say in the chorus’ refrain, “I would crawl through Hell on my knees/Just to be with you.” This is something of a romanticized sort of statement that certainly plenty of listeners will appreciate, especially taking into account the over-the-top pleas that are presented in the song’s verses. It is, again, not something for everyone, but those who do like such schmaltzy poetry will appreciate this presentation. It shows that the song’s subject has realized he/she has done wrong to his/her partner, and will do whatever it takes to make things right. Of course, actions speak louder than words, and keeping that in mind, it will not appeal to everyone, again, but will connect with its target listeners. It’s just one more way in which the record’s lyrical content proves itself just as important to the EP’s whole as the presentation’s musical arrangements. All things considered here, the overall content featured in these five songs makes Dead and Gone a work that is deserving of at least an occasional listen.
While the content that makes up the body of Dead and Gone does its own share to make the EP engaging and entertaining for the band’s target audience, the record’s production and mixing put the final touch to its whole. As noted already, each song has a lot going on, between the keyboards, electronics, drums, vocals, guitar and bass. Luckily, even as much as is going on in each song, each part is balanced well with one another. Hall’s singing, in its more subtle and even more powerful moments helps to accent the emotion exhibited in each lyrical presentation. At the same time, he never overpowers his band mates, nor do they wash him out. The drums, in ‘Cold’ couple well with the guitars and drums to show once again how much time and effort was put into the record to create its impact. Much the same can be said of the production of the record’s other works. The end result of all of the production and mixing is a record that deserves just as much credit for its aesthetics as for its content. Keeping that in mind, the EP, proves itself a strong return for the band and a work that deserves its own spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new EPs.
Stabbing Westward’s recently released EP Dead and Gone, released early this year, came with little fanfare or coverage from mainstream media outlets. Despite that, it still managed to succeed and show that Stabbing Westward still sounds as strong as it did back in the 90s. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements that will appeal widely to industrial and electronic rock fans. The record’s lyrical content ensures its own appeal among audiences. The production and mixing puts the final touch to the record’s whole. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the EP. All things considered, they make Dead and Gone proof that Stabbing Westward is not yet dead and gone. More information on Dead and Gone is available along with all of Stabbing Westward’s latest news at:
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