Oh, Stabbing Westward — I mean you’ve gotta at least root for the guys, if you still love rock and roll. Bless their hearts, they certainly seem on a mission from Satan to revive music in the 2020’s, issuing their first new tunes this month since 2001, a high-energy EP full of dramatic romantic caterwauls and sheets of electric guitar over robo-beats. Yes, that is 2001, the year the twin towers fell — this is not a typo.
Frontman Christopher Hall and beats programmer Walter Flakus remain intact from the original lineup (this according to Loudwire) so ya know, they’ve still got their core together. As background music for work, Dead and Gone is elite — it’s robotic, rhythmic, loud, dramatic and urgent. Essentially, it didn’t disappoint me in this regard at all even in the scope of this band’s best work to date. It walks and talks like vintage Stabbing Westward, in other words.
Anyway, I put it on today and I couldn’t help but notice that title track opener “Dead and Gone” was an exact ripoff of some song… “Save Yourself”? Who is that, Filter? Nope — it’s none other than the docile and compliant Stabbing Westward, the choice selection from their third album, 1998’s Darkest Days. It gets worse: the second track has almost the same chorus as the first (I told you this music was robotic), with Christopher Hall just descending to the minor third instead of the major, within basically the same exact rhythm. And then just to top off the jam session of the 25-year industrial class reunion, Hall asks “How did you get so cold?” within the exact metric interface Trent Reznor employs on “Ruiner”: “How’s you get so big? / How’d you get so strong?”
But Stabbing Westward aren’t just rip-offs. They’re rip-off ARTISTS. Well, that’s debatable. What’s not debatable is that if you like this band, this EP is at least worth a listen for getting your blood flowing, and that still with any holistic understanding of industrial’s history you’ll relegate it to the lower rung on your overall hard rock queue.