It’s been well over a year since I did one of these posts. It’s really not that easy to just identify albums that are kinda band yet oh so good and enjoyable at just that… hell my last few AAA posts were mostly good albums that kinds just didn’t have good public and critical reactions upon their release just so i had something to post and keep the series going.
This all changed when I had this strong urge to hear Stabbing Westward’s 1996 radio hit “What Do I Have to Do?” Now i could have gone and just YouTubed the clip and gotten my fix but i decided to go balls deep and get the whole album and I’m glad that I did.
Outside of “What Do I Have to Do?” I wasn’t really all that familiar with any other Stabbing Westward songs… growing up up, I viewed them, along with Gravity Kills were just kind of watered down NIN meets Deftones meets Tool whose sole purpose of being was churning out unoffensive and uninspired radio singles reminiscent of other bands. By the time Wither Blister Burn & Peel was released I was 18, in College and just wasn’t as susceptible to that shit as I once was. In a way I was kind of right in my initial assessment, and yet totally off base after hearing this album for the first time some 13 years after it’s release.
So I threw on Wither Blister Burn & Peel for my first real listen of it ever a few weeks ago. I gotta be honest it I was just planning to gnash my teeth and bear through the album until it hit “What Do I Have to Do?”, the album’s third track… but whoa! Opener “I Don’t Believe” and “Shame” (track 2) were some seriously catchy angst-ridden gems! It’s a shame that “Emo” didn’t really take off as a term in pop culture until two years after the release of Wither Blister Burn & Peel because this album is basically “Emodustrial.” I’ve been catching up on over a decade’s worth of guilty pleasure listens on this over the past few weeks. Where was this when I was 16 and heartbroken and angry!?
I think the truly mind boggling thing about Wither Blister Burn & Peel is that it’s pretty solid all the way through. Cheesy as it might be, these guys knew how to pen a catchy song, nay a whole album for a mostly teen fanbase. Usually nowadays when I’m feeling nostalgic and decide to dive back into an album from a 90s with whom I’m only familiar with one or two tracks I tend to discover that’s all worth hearing. hell usually the rest of the albums are downright unbearable to sit through, not with Wither Blister Burn & Peel though. Sure it’s mostly front-loaded with all the super catchy tracks and loses steam as it hits the homestretch, but the rest of the album is definitely higher grade than mere alterna-filler with some melodies and riffs that are catchy in their own right.
Wither Blister Burn & Peel works as a whole cohesive unit even outside of the hits… it ebbs and flows from anger, to atmosphere to sing-a-long fist pumping rage like some kind of The Downward Spiral lite for anyone too intimidated to get really into NIN. Filter couldn’t even do an album this solid and that dude was in NIN, so I gotta give Stabbing Westward the credit they deserve! As far as pandering blatantly for 90s commercial appeal goes, this was an utter success.
Behold my new guilty retro-pleasure!