Darkest Days (Columbia Records)
By: Joshua Porter
Most of Stabbing Westward's fans originally devoted themselves to the band and their music because of lead singer/lyricist Christopher Hall's meaningful lyrics. With their 1994 debut Ungod they established a small following and gained some mainstream music fans in 1996 when "What Do I Have To Do?" and "Shame" received regular airplay on MTV, and the second album Wither Blister Burn + Peel became a best seller.
Christopher Hall's lyrics range from poems of desperate emptiness and confusion, to the tears of love tradegies. The lyrics brought forth an array of fans who had found something that meant something to them.
This is why Darkest Days is a masterpeice; even though the music, mainly dark rock and industrial, is extremely well-written, the lyrics have their own significance that stands out in every song. Musically, the songs are like a great grunge song laced with electric beats, throbs, and relentless squeals and synthesizers screeching and beeping throughout every track.
The first single, "Save Yourself," takes highly contrasting transitions and melts them together. The song starts in a simple electronic sequence, then jumps into crying guitars and vocals that manage to sound angry and totally desperate at the same time. The chorus dosent appear to sound like an alternative rock song, or an angry tirade. Just a confused cry for help.
The album is a new exploration into what a song can be for the band. On Wither Blister Burn + Peel, Stabbing Westward kept a basic alternative rock song structure throughout the entire album, but Darkest Days experiments with new formats and arrangements. The songs on the album are dark and sad, yet beautiful, and the music completely supports the emotion in the lyrics.
The album introduces new member Marcus Eliopulos, and returns the other four band members (Christopher Hall, Jim Sellers, Andy Kubiszewski and Walter Flakus.) Hall, Flakus and Sellers are the only ones that were involved with Ungod and lasted through the departure of two original members (David Suycott and Stuart Zechman.)
With "Save Yourself" already receiving major airplay, and the album being snatched by dedicated fans since Ungod, the album is living up to its expectations. Songs like the title track lead the rest of the tracks into a dark exploration of sadness, and songs like "Torn Apart" (which originally appeared on the soundtrack for the summer film Spawn in a Josh Wink remix) invite metal into the electronics and screams. The closing track, "Waking Up Beside You," a beautiful love tragedy, is a perfect song to end an album. Other songs like "Sometimes It Hurts", and "How Can I Hold On?", are perfect examples of how Stabbing Westward can turn a catchy heavy industrial song into a desperate scream from the broken heart.