If you told me that Stabbing Westward, an Industrial Rock band originally from Chicago, would reenter my life twenty years after they first impacted it, I would not have believed you. Yet after all this time, I am listening to their first new studio album since 2001, Chasing Ghosts (COP International), and my world has been changed again. After devouring their most recent EP release Dead And Gone (COP International), fans were hungry for more and I was certainly no exception. Original founding members Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus have retained their signature style and newer members Carlton Bost and Bobby Amaro have brought so much richness to the sound.
Chasing Ghosts starts off with ‘I Am Nothing’, which was recently released as a single to prepare us all for what is to come. It explores feelings of desperation and self doubt which is woven into much of the album’s fabric. ‘Damaged Goods’ is up next with its strong dramatic drums and bass tones. Hall sings desperately about being damaged beyond repair and can’t be saved. The relatable lyrics envelop you and one can feel every bit of the wrenching pain being described.
A reworked ‘Cold’ differs slightly from the version we last heard on the Dead And Gone EP. The song explores loneliness in a relationship where there was once intimacy. ‘Push’ one might consider to be the ballad of the album. It’s over seven minutes long and the intro is reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s ethereal synthesizer sounds. Flakus’s mastery of the keyboards is especially evident in this piece. ‘Push’ explores feelings of insecurity and self doubt and absolutely conveys the desperate desire to fix things and not know how. This song in particular grabbed my heart and did not let go.
‘Wasteland’ is on the heavier side with Amaro’s heavy hitting drums and it almost reminds me of their original style found on their first album, Ungod. Self reflective, post apocalypse or pandemic feeling here admitting that one wouldn’t survive this without their partner.
‘Control Z’ is a clever reference to asking for another chance and to try again. ‘Crawl’ has also been reimagined with a more orchestral flavor and does an amazing job of wrapping the music around Hall’s voice, which has only become more beautiful over time.
‘Ghost’ delves into isolation in a relationship and emotional abandonment. I must make reference to the album’s spectacular artwork here by David Seidman. He beautifully captured the essence of Ghost and the separation of two souls and being torn apart.
‘The End’ wraps up the album with self reflection, raw emotions, insecurity, and begging to start over.
Stabbing Westward has found a new home with COP International which is a boutique label with a different approach than traditional labels. They have forged a successful partnership and have recreated the dream team which includes John Fryer who produced their first two albums, Ungod (Columbia) and Wither Blister Burn & Peel (Columbia). Their signature sound has remained intact, yet has matured. After twenty years, Stabbing Westward has produced a beautiful masterpiece which has already caused me to question which of their albums is my favorite. It is not necessary to know their past catalog to appreciate Chasing Ghosts, so if you are new to Stabbing Westward, welcome. This is the perfect time to jump right in.
9 / 10