Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1996 – Part 5.5: Stabbing Westward – Wither Blister Burn & Peel

It was their 2001 self-titled album that made me a fan and I went backwards. “Darkest Days” was consumed next and then “Whither Blister Burn & Peel”.

Before writing started for this album, main songwriter and guitarist Stuart Zechman departed the band after the “Ungod” tour due to “personal differences”.

So the band for this album is Christopher Hall on lead vocals, guitar and drum machine programming. Jim Sellers is on bass and guitar. Walter Flakus is on keyboards and programming. Andy Kubiszewski is on drums, guitar and keyboards.

Kubiszewski was actually new as well, and when it came to song writing for this album, he played the band dozens of demos he did. Songs like “What Do I Have to Do?”, “Haunting Me,” “Sometimes It Hurts,” “Crushing Me,” “Slipping Away,” “Desperate Now,” and “Goodbye.” These song would appear on this album and the “Darkest Days” albums.

The band thought about finding another guitarist however they went into the studio without any guitar player and decided to play the guitar parts themselves with Sellers and Kubiszewski taking on most of the guitar duties.

I Don’t Believe

Any song that starts off with the words “I’m such an asshole” and “I just keep fucking up” means business. While rooted in the Industrial sounds of NIN, it has a certain arena rock vibe when the Chorus kicks in which the hook “I don’t believe I could be so stupid and naïve”.

Shame

The big song from the album. The intro riff is infectious, instantly making me pick up the guitar to learn it.

What Do I Have to Do?

The electronic keys riff with the sound effects is unusual and I like it. My favourite song, which shows a real rock vocal.

Press play to hear how the second verse riff crashes in. Brilliant.

And the hook, is so desperate with the words, “what do I have to do if you don’t want me”

Why

The main music is sound effects, electronics and the keys providing a riff. It all feels so desolate and haunting. But I like it.

Why can’t you see that everything is broken?

These kind of artists got blasted by rock audiences at the grim nature of their lyrics, but as a fan of metal bands and thrash metal in particular, these kind of lyrics are nothing new. All of our heroes have fears and doubts.

Inside You

It’s like soundtrack music with a vocal melody over it.

Falls Apart

The album does fall apart with this song. It has a Ministry like riff which starts off the song full of energy, however the verses really let it down.

So Wrong

This could be on a metal album or a rock album and it wouldn’t be out of place because of the main riff.

Actually Fates Warning have a similar song on their “Disconnect” album from 2000.

Crushing Me

It’s like a long lost song from Kurt Cobain. Press play and check out the intro riff. But there are a lot of sections with sound effects, electronics and keys which just take away the good from the intro riff.

Sleep

There is a cool riff in this song, but you would need to listen through a lot of soundscapes and electronics. But when it comes it around the 2.10 mark, it’s worth the wait.

Slipping Away

This one just slipped away from me as the title states, with too much electronica.

The album was a success and supported by the singles “Shame” and “What Do I Have to Do?” they got themselves a Gold certification in the U.S and some heavy MTV rotation. The band also recruited Mark Eliopulos to handle the live element of the main guitar parts.

This is how it was for me between 1995 to about 2005. I would buy an album from a hard rock band I knew and I would be buying albums from so many different artists that looked like they had distorted guitars and played something that could be influenced by metal and rock bands.

I was just looking for something to get into it.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2001 – Part 5.4: Stabbing Westward – Stabbing Westward

My favourite album from Stabbing Westward. It was my first proper listening experience from them. I purchased the single, “So Far Away” and then downloaded a copy of the album before purchasing it.

And it’s not on Spotify which pisses me off. But of course YouTube has all the music.

What’s the deal with the cover?

If your making a statement about a self-titled album, is that the cover you want to advertise it?

After this album, I went back to listen to their earlier stuff via various Cyberlockers, Limewire, AudioGalaxy sites.

They needed to press the reset switch on their career.

How much more darker do they want to go?

The first album was called “Ungod,” the second was called “Whither, Blister, Burn and Peel” and the third was called “Darkest Days.” And for a name like “Stabbing Westward” I didn’t expect to hear a pop rock album.

They had three albums with Sony and two of em achieved a Gold certification from the RIAA. But they signed with an independent label after that in Koch Records.

Their new manager wanted the band to create an album with a heavy pop influence. Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Mark Eliopulos fought against this decision. Somehow the manager had more power within the band than the actual band members and guitarist Mark Eliopulos was fired by the manager who brought in Derrek Hawkins as both a studio and live musician, as well as a new producer, Ed Buller.

For this album, Stabbing Westward is Christopher Hall – vocals, Derrek Hawkins – guitar, Jim Sellers – bass, Walter Flakus – keyboards and Andy Kubiszewski – drums.

Released on May 22, 2001, the album did well in Australia, but ultimately failed to sell worldwide like their previous albums. They got put on a tour opening up for “The Cult” however the label told them to drop out as they were wasting their money being the opening band on a tour that wasn’t setting any attendance records and to wait around for a better offer.

So Far Away

The themes of anger, hurt, regret and despair are still there in the lyrics, however the music is straight ahead heavy rock and the vocal melodies could have come from an 80’s hard rock album.

Perfect

A strummed acoustic guitar which reminds me of Tonic. It’s a happy song about Hall’s girlfriend. I guess she was just perfect.

I Remember

My favourite song on the album. It’s a soft rock song with a simple D to Bm to A to G chord progression and a haunting vocal melody. It also reminds me of tracks from Porcupine Tree like “Lazarus” and “Trains” hence the reason why I probably like it.

Wasted

As good as any hard rock song that did the charts before and after. Most people associate it with drugs, but it’s not. It’s about looking back at your life so far and seeing how the decisions you made in the past lead to you burning so many bridges and feeling lonely.

Happy

Oasis wasn’t writing songs like this anymore.

Do the same old demons haunt just me?

Sometimes it’s hard to escape the past and the feelings you have to those occasions.

The Only Thing

It reminds me of The Verve and that alternative soft rock.

Angel

Very similar to “Wasted” in feel.

Breathe You In

An acoustic guitar riff reminiscent to The Verve and Oasis.

High

A short drum intro and then an aggressive Bush/Live like vibe kicks in with the main riff.

Television

It sounds like a cut from “The Tea Party” and it’s a nod to their past albums.

Is anyone alive / Or am I lost in a world where nothing matters / Am I lost in a world where no one cares

I suppose the question can be asked about again about social media and all the noise that comes with that.

Last Time

A bonus track for the Australian and Japanese edition. It has a “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” vocal vibe in the verses.

This record made me a fan. But. Before a fifth LP could be recorded, the band disbanded on February 9, 2002.

Vocalist Christopher Hall started a band called “The Dreaming” and by 2016, that band had Walter Flakus and Mark Eliopulos in the fold. In other words, three/fifths of Stabbing Westward. So it was just a matter of time before Stabbing Westward reunited. First for a reunion tour and in 2022, they dropped a new album called “Chasing Ghosts”.

Welcome back.

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