If something’s going to eventually end up on our year end list then it needs a proper review barring the tiny blurbs we add, right? It’s especially important to have a review when going through our Spotify “Wrapped” playlist for the year and many a song on said album lie pretty high in there. And for the record, we had started this thing back in March soon after the record came out but never finished it.
But I digress.
We are talking about the resurrection of Stabbing Westward and their incredible new entry into an already impressive discog, Chasing Ghosts. It’s a throwback but it’s new. It’s comparable to some earlier stuff but also Stabbing Westward 2.0. It’s a comeback but also a continuation. In short, it’s a fucking beast.
“I Am Nothing” is that knocking the rust off kind of song and a nice segue from the very SW-sounding last album by Christopher Hall’s last outfit The Dreaming which also happened to feature keyboardist Walter Flakus in its’ ranks for 2015’s Rise Again. A droning, driving, steady banger that’s instantly recognizable as Stabbing Westward even before Hall begins to croon sweet nothings at our collective earholes, “I Am Nothing” is just the tip of the sonic iceberg that looms within Chasing Ghosts.
“Damaged Goods” is next level and the one that’s the true test because any album can have that opening banger but it’s the mark of a truly great album to keep that momentum going throughout. Which Chasing Ghosts certainly does. A fitting pulsating Industrial monster, “Damaged Goods” is also kind of a statement to those wondering if the SW of 2022 would sound the way they left things off in 2001 or like their mid-’90’s height. And the answer here is neither really. With vibrant textures abound, the Stabbing Westward of today is a new creature that sounds as fresh as they did when Ungod first dropped in 1994.
Take “Cold” as an example which goes way beyond “Damaged Goods” in terms of being particularly animated as this bouncing electronic behemoth brims with the kind of electricity that made the initial SW run so outstanding. With a huge classic chorus from Hall and Flakus’ synths (Along with Hall’s exquisite programming) plus Bobby Amaro’s huge drums and Carlton Bost’s humming bass, “Cold” could easily be mistaken for “classic” Stabbing Westward if it weren’t so dang futuristic sounding throughout.
“Push” combines those Shriekback tracks from Manhunter and “I Am Where It Takes Me” off Black Light Burns’ Cruel Melody for a sprawling, sweeping opus, “Wasteland” is a guitar-focused Industrial-tinged heavy on par with some of the Ungod greats (“Control”,”Nothing”), and “Control Z” has some old school ’90’s KMFDM vibes about it before Hall’s uncanny voice strikes a line in the sand and makes it unmistakably Stabbing Westward.
“Crawl” is a vocal showcase for Hall’s unmatchable range and the kind of track that demands those lighters and cell phones be up in the air when played live while the Chasing Ghosts version of “Dead & Gone” is even more inspired than what was released as part of an EP of the same name way back in 2020 with a sick build up that leads towards a crushing chorus. “Ghost” is definitely the epitome of Stabbing Westward 2.0 as it digs up those old school primal vibes and mixes it up with the more broad scope that Wither, Blister… and Darkest Days gave fans before the aptly titled “The End” drifts in with what can only be described as an epic Electro-laden sound experiment that gently swells as Hall’s voice cascades and careens off the Industrial force the band have created to close out their latest full-length record.
Chasing Ghosts is out now through COP International and you can get yours to stream or download by clicking here, here, or here. For the latest on Stabbing Westward, follow the trail of socials by heading here, here, or here.