Allison and Her Music #2 (She was an insatiable black hole)
As a screw you to their alma mater, Western Illinois University, the original members (clad in black pants, black shirts and black nail polish) figured Stabbing Westward was the most violent name that could pay homage to the one horse town that didn’t understand their feelings. In 1993 they relocated to Chicago and released several industrial albums through Columbia Records. Record sales were always sluggish for Stabbing Westward. They almost always played as openers for bands like Placebo and Depeche Mode. They had one album certified gold but that wasn’t enough. The day before travelling to Hawaii to record an album, Columbia cancelled their contract and their manager left to support other projects. In 2001, at Koch Records and under new management and production staff, Stabbing Westward recorded and released a self-titled effort. It was a dramatic departure from their industrial sound and their final album.
I think it was very tragic for Stabbing Westward to depart so far from the industrial sound. It was, after all, what brought them together and I think the reason they parted ways. I loved the song So Far Away so much I purchased the self-titled album. I remember my 20 year-old self being disappointed with the rest of the album and figuring why check out their earlier stuff if it’s as crappy as this. Little did I know the band was self destructing. So there’s where my Stabbing Westward collection stayed, their final album.
For my Stabbing Westward experience I listened to five or six earlier industrial tracks on YouTube. I love industrial music. It’s gritty, filthy dirty, emotional, sweaty and great to dance to. You can dance to it however you want without fear of being judged unlike at an “un tiss” bar. But I digress. The only song I could consider even remotely close to industrial is So Far Away, but it’s not even close. This is my favorite song on the album because it’s unlike any of the other songs. It’s the first track and everything goes downhill, and fast, after that. So Far Away employs all the creativity that an imploding band could stand to muster. The lyrics compliment the music well. The sound is challenging and the song is sad and purposeful.
The rest of the album sounds like bad, angst-filled poetry written by a 17 year-old for a high school English assignment. In the track Happy, he’s dealing with a break up but he’s blaming “the other man” for her leaving. I think he needs to do some introspection and figure if there is anything within himself that needs evaluation. With the songs The Only Thing and Breathe You In the lyrics and themes are repetitive. The Only Thing is a whole song written about how they share air but air is a metaphor for the other person in the relationship. Breathe You In deals with her being gone and him complaining about it and just needing her there for him to breathe. How many ways can you say the same thing? During the track, Wasted, not only is the concept repeated but entire stanzas are. It also employs the obligatory “fuck.” Several of the songs use the classic, turn of the millennium fade out reminiscent of Train and Vertical Horizon. The album definitely leaves more to be desired.
I fully admit I was a poor music fan when it came to Stabbing Westward. I left them when they needed me most. My $16 probably wouldn’t have kept them together. I didn’t go back and explore their earlier recordings. That probably wouldn’t have helped either. This album is going in the I-Purchased-This-Record-For-One-Song pile. It makes me sad that I only enjoy one song but (to close this entry with a terrible cliché) you can’t win them all.
Thanks for reading. Next week’s experience: Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy, 1978, Asylum Records