February 18, 2015 The Dreaming – Rise Again (Album Review)
Back in the ’90s, the multi-selling Industrial Rock band Stabbing Westward from Chicago, IL was lavished with success, having several hit singles. With heavy rotation on MTV, as well as radio stations, touring amongst Depeche Mode, KISS, Sex Pistols, and Placebo, the band was atop their game. After four releases, founding members Christopher Hall (vocals) and Walter Flakus (keyboards) broke up the band in 2002, thus ending an era. Shortly after, while still looking to pursue musical perfection, Hall founded The Dreaming in Los Angeles where one-time Stabbing Westward member Johnny Haro soon took place behind the drum kit. Releasing their debut album Etched In Blood in 2008, the band dissociated far away from the Stabbing Westward milestones Wither, Blister, Burn and Peel (1996) and Darkest Days (1998) and was settled in the Alternative Punk Rock genre while the 2011 successor, Puppet, was more Metal colored and climbing the US Rock charts. Through the years, the band has sustained several lineup changes, and after many fans were inquiring about a Stabbing Westward reunion, the prayers were answered when The Dreaming announced special live shows to perform old classics with Flakus. Finally reuniting the renowned songwriting team of Hall/Flakus, The Dreaming’s new lineup features Orgy guitarist Carlton Bost, bassist Franccesca De Struct, and mainstay Haro on drums.
Almost poetic, the album title Rise Again appears to be Hall and Flakus response to fans to bring back the spirit and sound of the early Stabbing Westward releases. In a haunting way, the album could be viewed by many fans as a re-scheduled follow-up to where Darkest Days ended seventeen years earlier. Proved so is the opening track “Alone” which is grooving Industrial-Rock soaked with melancholy, along with lyrics that capture Hall’s inimitable voice. On “Painkillers,” the samples and keyboards of Flakus are squeaking and creaking making for a distinctive sound. This is prevalent as well on “Kisses Taste Like Death” and “Empty Promises” where it becomes clear that Flakus and the clever arranged electronic elements were the missing link that fans were thirsty for. Conspicuous is the drum-play of Haro, whose snare-drum feels like a punch in the listener’s face and chases songs like “Blink Of An Eye“ to let him drop down and dream in emotionally electronica the next moment. Beside this, the grooving guitars and bass-play of the axe-duo Bost and De Struct are responsible for the needed batch to let the songs appear in a heavy and rocking garb as proved in “Afraid” or the closing title-track. Those looking for diversity fear not as there is plenty sprinkled throughout Rise Again. The ballad “Throw It Away“ is a prime example of such and it should satisfy the biggest disbelievers while it rounds out the overall picture of the album.
Rise Again is an album of ten killers and no fillers tracks. The songwriting dream-team of Hall/Flakus recollect on their strengths with which they had their biggest success, but with that said, the album never sounds planned on a drawing board with paint by numbers. This is a natural piece of work that sees the band hit a new stride. There is no doubt Hall is a perfectionist and, like any artist, is simply never satisfied with their work. Rise Again should appease the vocalist for quite sometime, until of course he itches to create another masterpiece. Taking all his experience over his decades in music, Hall and The Dreaming kept the promise to bring back timeless Industrial Rock. Now, it is the turn of the growing fan base to support and buy Rise Again as well as to bring the band back on the Industrial Rock-Olymp, where they belong. Anything else than the highest valuation would be outrageous. CrypticRock gives Rise Again 5 out of 5 stars.