December 30, 2019 Stabbing Westward – Dead and Gone (EP Review)
After fourteen silent years away from the spotlight, Industrial Rockers Stabbing Westward delighted fans with a set of surprise reunion shows in 2016. With the success of their return, the band continued to deliver good news to ecstatic fans, including a full-length tour in 2017 and a 20th anniversary stint to celebrate 1998’s Darkest Days. Still in the gifting mood, the quartet are prepared to unleash the 5-song EP, Dead and Gone, on Friday, January 3, 2020.
Mind you, this is not the first music released since the reunion—that honor goes to the resurrected Iwo Jesus EP that they delivered last year—but this is definitely the first new music collection in over a decade from the Illinois band. Originally formed in 1986, they would release four albums, including 1994’s Ungod, 1996’s Wither Blister Burn & Peel and 2001’s Stabbing Westward, before disbanding in early 2002. One of many other talented bands gone long before their time, the quartet had delivered such memorable tracks as “What Do I Have to Do?,” “Shame,” “Save Yourself,” and “So Far Away.”
Thankfully you cannot keep a good thing down! As previously noted, Stabbing Westward—Vocalist/Multi-Instrumentalist Christopher Hall, Bassist Carlton Bost, Drummer Bobby Amaro, Keyboardist Walter Flakus—returned in 2016, toured their hearts out and proved that their fandom is still strong. Which brings us to the Dead and Gone EP, a collection of three brand spanking new songs and two fun remixes that fully retain the group’s signature sound and are guaranteed to excite listeners.
There’s a sensuous Middle Eastern influence to the synths that weave the opening of “Cold,” an entrancing and alluring earworm for all those that rave to Industrial Rock. Lost passion anchors this saddened look at a partner who has grown icy, complete with infectious moments that harken back to Orgy’s 1998 hit cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Add a backbeat and some crazy synths, amp everything up to a dancier beat, and you have “Cold (Goa Remix),” an offering that will indeed “consume you with a burning desire.”
If you’re already prepared for Stabbing Westward’s next full-length, then you are not alone—but there’s more! Like a music box ballerina, “Crawl” gently swirls its way into existence only to grow into a wall of sound. A passionate, emotional power ballad, the track sees Hall on his hands and knees for the one he loves.
And then there’s the EP’s namesake, “Dead and Gone.” Here, a lush synthscape provides the backbone for personal confessions, an aggressive push to keep on keeping on in the face of hopelessness and lost love. It too is coupled with a reimagining, “Dead and Gone (Stoneburner Remix).” Not necessarily better (or worse) than its original, it’s an interesting chopped retelling that takes emphasis away from the intensity of the track’s lyrics, and yet presents a fun reinterpretation of its source material.
Three new songs from any band seems like far too little when you are enmeshed in their music, but Stabbing Westward have done themselves proud with the Dead and Gone EP. It whets the palate and excites the senses, reminding fans that this band are still making vital and fresh new music—and it’s totally worth the wait! The perfect way to celebrate the beginning of a new decade in music, Dead and Gone is the promise that Stabbing Westward are back with a fiercely infectious vengeance! For this, Cryptic Rock give the EP 5 of 5 stars.