Musical reunions are often funny things and many of them don’t last very long – like when David Lee Roth briefly returned to Van Halen, or, more famously, when Led Zeppelin reunited to play one show with deceased drummer John Bonham’s son Jason joining in to play drums. Reunions such as these are likely done for monetary reasons and come along with a sweet and trite little story of how the members who had not spoken in years decided to give up their beef with one another and perform together again. This along with fans’ latent nostalgia for something they thought they would never see or hear again often make band reunions worth it to some extent.
The exact reason behind the breakup of 90s industrial rock band Stabbing Westward is likely due to creative differences amongst its members. The music world has long been an always-burgeoning pool of drama queens and prima donnas, and given that Stabbing Westward saw an ever rotating cast of characters over the course of their twelve-or-so year career, it is likely that there was dissension in the ranks. During their career Stabbing Westward put out four albums, the most famous being 1995’s Wither Blister Burn & Peel. Two tracks from Wither Blister Burn & Peel, “Shame” and “What Do I Have to Do?” helped to propel the album to gold record status. That along with countless airings of their videos on MTV and heavy rotation on modern rock airwaves of the day made the band a huge success. That success slowly faded as their follow up to Wither Blister Burn & Peel, 1998’s Darkest Days failed to fill the big shoes left by its predecessor. And so dying a slow death and releasing one last self-titled album, Stabbing Westward finally called it quits in early 2002.
But it wasn’t really quits at all, because Stabbing Westward’s original founding members – lead singer Christopher Hall and keyboardist Walter Flakus – began a new project named The Dreaming. The band also includes onetime Stabbing Westward alum Johnny Haro.
The Dreaming recently released their third full-length studio record, Rise Again. Much of Rise Again seems to serve the same purpose as The Dreaming’s previous two records, and that purpose seems to be to make a carbon copy of everything the band have been doing since their inception, which is to continue to make slow-core metal music interlaced here and there with a few tinges of electronica.
On Rise Again, nothing has changed. Take for instance the amped up and electrically charged “Painkillers,” a druggy mess of wailing guitars and double bass pedal drums. Or the dance beat ballad “Still Believe.” Even further still are the near identical lackluster twins of “Afraid” and “Destroy” which employ the same rollercoaster method of verse-chorus-verse songwriting.
Perhaps Christopher Hall wasn’t thinking ironically as he wrote the lyrics for the song “Blink of an Eye” as he laments, “Why are we here?/why should I care?/why should I bother?” But they do serve as a reflection of The Dreaming as a whole. If one were to listen to Rise Again alongside any Stabbing Westward album, the evidence would be conclusive that neither Hall, Flakus, or Haro have any immediate plans to move out of the house that industrial rock built.