Wither Blister Burn + Peel

Stabbing Westward

Sony, 1996


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Wither Blister Burn + Peel is one of those cases where a seemingly promising album does a lot less than what is expected of it. It was released during the time when industrial music was gaining substantial popularity, after the big grunge boom.

When the world was thirsting for more industrial, Stabbing Westward came up with the single "What Do I Have To Do?" followed up by the perfect industrial song "Shame" and the album Wither Blister Burn + Peel. It's a perfectly industrial-ish album-title, with two hard-hitting singles; nothing could be wrong about the album, could it?

Well, actually a lot is wrong about Wither Blister Burn + Peelmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . It does satisfy all the sine qua nons of an industrial album: richly layered and unrecognizable music, plenty of distortion happening in the midst of the effusive synthesized sounds, and yes, the essentially obloquious lyrics, which refuse to understand and acknowledge the beauty of the world around us.

Still, Wither Blister Burn + Peel is far from an album to be in awe of. It appears as if Stabbing Westward has picked out ingredients from an industrial album, and has tried to mix those ingredients, trying to ape their more successful industrial compatriots like Nine Inch Nails.

Sadly, music doesn't work the same way as cooking food does. One cannot just pick out the essential commodities and simply try to cook them up to create a good work of musical art. Music is supposed to come from the heart, and should flow naturally.

The two singles, "What Do I have To Do?" and "Shame," are original, but don't lead to a promising record. There are of course a few genuinely good songs amongst the weed of fakes. "Why" and "Sleep," both with similar (down) tempos, do, like the singles, seem genuinely conceived and mature. Alas, these songs are quickly dwarfed by a bunch of puerile ones, which are indicative that Stabbing Westward seriously needs to come of age.

The lack of maturity of this band from Chicago is most prominent in its lyrics. Industrial music is best sung with lyrics of fury and spite. This doesn't mean that one should make the least effort in being creative enough to write meaningful hate-ridden words, and end up writing gibberish, trying to sound angry, and hoping that the superimposed music will take care of the shortcomings of the sloppy writing. The group has simply sorted out words that have a demonic appeal, and has strewn them throughout the album, hugger-mugger, without trying to make any genuine sense.

Stabbing Westward needs to grow up badly, and it needs to be more creative. With the quality of the honestly promising numbers on Wither Blister Burn + Peel, the band should've been more careful with the rest of the lot, which overshadow the ones which are indicative of a promising outfit passing through an ugly phase of adolescence.

Rating: B-

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