When Stabbing Westward released its EP, Dead and Gone, in January 2020, it was the first new music from the band in approximately two decades. The five-song record featured three new songs and remixes of two of the compositions. The record was, for diehard Stabbing Westward fans, a welcome new offering from the band. Now two years after the EP’s release, those three originals have joined with seven other originals to form what is Stabbing Westward’s first new full album in 21 years in the form of Chasing Ghosts. The 10-song record is another presentation that those noted devotees will appreciate. It will also appeal to casual industrial metal fans if slightly less so. That appeal comes primarily through the record’s featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. While the musical arrangements featured throughout the record will appeal to a wide range of audiences, the record’s lyrical content will limit that appeal to a point. This will be discussed a little later. The record’s production works with its musical side to add to the general effect and make it at least somewhat more appealing. This element will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation. All things considered, they make Chasing Ghosts worth hearing at least once among casual audiences and more among the band’s most devoted audiences.
Chasing Ghosts, Stabbing Westward’s first new album in 21 years, is an interesting new offering from the veteran industrial metal band. It is for the most part, everything that audiences have come to expect from the quartet musically and lyrically. Speaking first on the matter of the record’s musical arrangements, they boast all of the same brooding, synth-driven approach and sound to which audiences have become accustomed over the years. The control that front man Christopher Hall exhibits in his fiery vocals is just as familiar and appealing. In listening to all of the songs (even the much more subdued album closer, the aptly titled song, ‘The End’) the overall arrangements will take audiences back to the band’s heyday what with their inescapable comparisons to Nine Inch Nails’ and Depeche Mode’s best works. It forms a strong foundation for the album. As much as the record’s musical content does to make it engaging and entertaining, its lyrical content detracts from that enjoyment. That cannot be denied.
The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements is important to note because as with so many of Stabbing Westward’s catalog, the record’s lyrical content centers almost entirely on the same subject, that of broken relationships. From one album to the next, Hall has sung about the topic from one side or another, either being angry at the other person or begging and pleading. In the case of this record, he broaches the topic from both angles, The only song that could even seem to be about anything else is the record’s “title track,” ‘Ghost.’ In the case of this song, it sounds like a song that even with its brooding nature, is still about abandonment issues and the impact thereof. To that end, it could still apply in the case of a broken relationship, so again, the record’s lyrical content is undeniably limiting. There is no ignoring this issue. Thankfully even with all of this in mind, the limiting nature of the record’s lyrical content, it is not enough to completely doom the album. The production that went into the arrangements works with those works to make the record at least somewhat more worth hearing.
The production that went into this album, conducted by the band’s longtime producer and friend John Fryer. Fryer produced Stabbing Westward’s 1994 debut album, Ungod, as well as its follow-up, Wither Blister Burn & Peel (1996). Fryer has also worked (fittingly) with the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, and Gravity Kills, three other bands who are known for their electronic and industrial leanings. In other words, Fryer has a lot of experience working not only with Stabbing Westward, knowing how to bring out the best from each of the band members, but in the electronic/industrial realm, too. His experience brought out the best from the band in this case, too, in terms of the album’s musical arrangements. Keeping that in mind along with the general familiarity of the arrangements to audiences, the two elements are certain to keep casual Stabbing Westward fans just as entertained as the band’s more devoted audiences. Those casual audiences will take all of this in mind and find the album worth hearing at least once while the more devoted audiences will find this and even the brooding lyrics will make the album worth even more.
Chasing Ghosts, the latest album from electronic/industrial rock band Stabbing Westward, is a presentation that the band’s most devoted audiences will agree was worth the wait of more than two decades. More casual audiences will find it worth hearing at least once. Its appeal among both audience groups comes primarily through its musical arrangements. Their familiarity and their heaviness will appeal to any fan of the industrial and electronic realms. As much as the record’s musical arrangements do to make it engaging and entertaining, the all too familiar brooding about broken relationships will limit the album’s appeal. That is because that is pretty much the only theme that runs through the album, much as with the band’s existing catalog. It’s another case of too much of a good thing. The record’s production works with the sound in the arrangements to make for at least some more appeal and to round out the most important of the album’s elements. When the production and arrangements are considered together, the two elements will make the record mostly successful.
Chasing Ghosts is available now through COP International. More information on the album is available along with all of Stabbing Westward’s latest news at:
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