Forgotten Favorites: Stabbing Westward

Chris Surrency

Music is a very important thing in my life, it’s what has helped get me through many of the darkest moments in my past while also sticking with me to remember the good times. I’m sure everyone has the same situation to some degree. I’ve just always had an obsession with music, a connection with it that I would honestly describe as being as close to a drug addiction as I have ever been. There was a point where I would spend a large portion of my paychecks on compact discs every two weeks. For the younger readers, compact discs are these little round things that used to be used to play music. Not the big vinyl albums that have come back in style, much smaller, and an electric eye read the disc instead of using a needle. Anyway, back on topic, I have always had this deal where an artist would resonate with me and as a result I would go back and buy their whole discography. Then I would learn who influenced them and start buying their albums as well. Needless to say this lead to a rather large collection of music, and as a result I tend to lose track of some favorites over time. Then, flipping around on the radio, I’ll hear a couple seconds of one of their songs and suddenly I’m cranking up the volume and locked in on the song. It creates a rush as I always remark “man, how did I forget about them?”

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Wither, Blister, Burn & Peel

One band that seems to fall into that category fairly often for me is Stabbing Westward. I still have no clue how I lose track of them in my musical rotation, their music was just amazing back in the day. While their last studio album really didn’t impress me much, the two before really hit hard. Whither, Blister, Burn, and Peel was a great introduction to their industrial metal sound, the two “hits” from the album being “Shame” and “What Do I Have To Do” each peaked at number 7 in the United States. While I recommend hitting up the entire album from start to finish, anyone who hasn’t heard them yet should start with these two songs. It’s a little like Nine Inch Nails with more melodic vocals. I suppose a big part of why I remember them so fondly is that the band hit their peak of popularity in my mid to late teen years. It’s easy to connect with aggressive music with a fairly dark tone during those awkward years. While I don’t know that they get the credit they deserve, Stabbing Westward could be seen as one of the bands that helped bring “emo” music to the masses. Unfortunately it took a turn after them and nobody was ever really able to recapture that sound again. The most positive thing to me at the moment is that the music still kills as much today as it did in my younger days.

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Darkest Days

The album that I go back to most often from the band is Darkest Days, this was honestly just a great listen from start to finish. This is the song that got them a bit more mainstream attention with “The Thing I Hate” appearing in Duke Nukem: Time To Kill, and it fit perfectly. To this day I can’t help butchering this song alongside Christopher Hall anytime I hear it playing. “Save Yourself” was another monster off Darkest Days, it was used in a slew of movies back in the day, and had a little momentary revival as the end credit song for season 5 of True Blood in 2012. While the hit songs were great, I personally loved some of the deeper cuts from the album. There are a couple albums in my lifetime that I could put on at any point in the album and I’ll be stuck sitting from that moment all the way back around and love every second and Darkest Days is one of the top albums in that list. “Torn Apart” is a powerfully emotional song lyrically while maintaining a harder edge sound that matches everything put out by Stabbing Westward. Honestly, that may be my favorite of their songs. As much as I railed against the “emo” movement in the early 2000s I have to admit that this album honestly could have fit right in with anything put out by bands like My Chemical Romance, except Christopher Hall seemed to channel more anger in his voice than those who followed in that scene.

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A couple years back the band reunited for a few 30th Anniversary shows, and have played together as Stabbing Westward here and there since that time. There are a couple shows currently showing for this year as well. If Stabbing Westward were to ever give one more full scale tour as a unit I would have to make it to their show, no matter what it took. As big as Metallica was on my childhood, and have been in my life growing through the years, Stabbing Westward was the embodiment of the angry teen within me for those few years in the mid-to-late nineties. A couple years back I heard this band The Dreaming and thought they sounded very familiar, only to find out the vocals were done by the one and only Christopher Hall of Stabbing Westward. Since then I’ve been a bit of a fan of them as well. There are plenty of bands that float in and out of our lives, some leave a mark and Stabbing Westward is one of those bands. Much like Living Colour, I could go months or longer without hearing anything from them, then within a couple notes I’m taken back to my youth. The memories come flooding back instantly, and I can’t help but smile. I’m sure we all have bands or artists who elicit the same reaction, feel free to sound off in the comments and let me know who spoke to your soul musically.

Chris Surrency

Chris Surrency is an aspiring author and article writer with opinions on many different topics. He fell in love with writing as a child in elementary school and has taken any occasion possible to let the words that roll around in his head come out whether it be in a notebook or on a computer. Chris got his first opportunity to write online at, a subsidiary site for Wrestling News World, posting opinion pieces. He later joined the Yahoo Contributor's Network, covering many topics from science to video games and back to sports, and almost all points in between, he posted well over one hundred articles up until the moment Yahoo dismantled the network. Since that time he's provided content to different sites online, written his first novel, and eventually made his way to MCXV where he's finally capturing the enjoyment he once found while writing at Yahoo once again.