Release Date: February 10, 2015
For those of you who know the band Stabbing Westward, this was a return to glory for them. The band Stabbing Westward was mildly popular in the 90’s into the beginning of the 2000’s, and it was an industrial/alternative rock/metal band that meant a lot to me back in that day. The mid to late 90’s gave a fair amount of success to industrial bands largely because of Nine Inch Nails’ popularity. Those bands like Stabbing Westward and Filter could ride the industrial wave into a decent amount of success and popularity, and I can’t remember exactly when I first heard Stabbing Westward songs but one old memory sticks out of when an old buddy of mine and I shared music videos with each other, with these songs in the background. For one reason or another, Stabbing Westward was the perfect band for me to listen to in high school, and they resonated with me significantly. In fact, one of the first albums I ever dove deep into was Stabbing Westward’s Darkest Days.
The reason I talk so much about Stabbing Westward is because they broke up in 2002 just a few years after I started listening to them, and the band members went their separate ways. The lead singer, Chris Hall, formed a band immediately after the split, called The Dreaming. As a big fan, I followed their demos and paid close attention to the band until nothing seemed to come of them, until they finally released an album in 2008. That album, Etched in Blood, was ok, but it didn’t have the magic that Stabbing Westward had for me. The Dreaming released another album in 2011, and it still wasn’t quite right, but they added a few members including the former guitarist of an old favorite band of mine, Deadsy. They were moving in the right direction.
We now find ourselves with a new release this week from The Dreaming, but the most significant thing about this album is that Walter Flakus, the keyboardist of Stabbing Westward, mended fences with Chris Hall, and joined the band. Additionally, Johnny Haro, one of the drummers of Stabbing Westward, joined The Dreaming as well. As of now, there are three members of Stabbing Westward in the band, as well as Carlton Bost from Deadsy. This is a big deal for me, because this album, Rise Again, feels like Stabbing Westward has risen again.
So enough with the history lesson, let’s talk about this album. We start with the track Alone, and wouldn’t you know it, it sounds like it had been plucked right off an old Stabbing Westward album. I am in no way complaining, and in fact this is exactly what I was hoping for. The crunchy instruments, the flowing synth, the powerful vocals…this is everything I could have hoped for. The first time I listened to Alone, I felt like I was 14 again listening to something off Darkest Days. It was the good parts of 14 that I felt, mind you. From here, we dive into Painkillers, which is a great melding of the sound of The Dreaming mixed with the best parts of Stabbing Westward. There aren’t too many fillers on this album, which is good because it’s short, with only 10 tracks lasting just over 40 minutes. I could go through the album track by track, but I’ll sum up most of the others as either combinations of Stabbing Westward sounds mixed with the new direction that The Dreaming tried to go in with Puppet and Etched in Blood. The other highlight of this album is Afraid, which is actually a re-imagination of a Stabbing Westward B-side track. They pulled that track from the ashes and made something memorable with it. I feel like this album brought out my inner Stabbing Westward fanboy, and that I’m writing about this album as if I’m a 16 year old boy writing in his internet journal about this new album I just found. Wait…
This album is frequently upbeat with its sound even if the subject matters of the the lyrics. The combination of their modern sound with some light punk influences, fun synths and sporadic alt metal really resonates with me once again, and this album totally caught me off guard. I was expecting to listen to this album in passing and then move on, but it hooked me. Fans of The Dreaming and especially Stabbing Westward will rejoice in Rise Again, because this feels like Stabbing Westward 2.0. I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this album, and I feel like my gushing over it has pushed this review over five minutes worth of reading so I will pack it in here. Give Rise Again a shot, and while I know this sound isn’t for everyone, it is for me so that’s all I need. To attempt to normalize the scores, the original score of 4.5/5 will be upgraded to 13.5 Ratings Units out of 15.