“Darkest Days” is a nearly flawless album by Stabbing Westward, and it’s definitely the best album they ever put out. From the beginning song, “Darkest Day,” to the ending song, “Waking Up Beside You,” Christopher Hall and the boys discover variations on the theme of loneliness, and they are truly musical, lyrical, and painful.”Save Yourself” is one of my favorites on this album. It’s an oddly despairing, yet inspiring, song. Hall sings about empowerment, and how he’s not about to save anyone, because he can’t even save himself. Like I said; very ironic, yet very moving. Five stars for that one.Right before that is another of my favorites, the only truly “happy” song on this album, “You Complete Me.” Here, Hall sings of the happier, quieter moments in a relationship, where people truly feel a part of one another. Five stars for that.”Torn Apart” and “Sometimes it Hurts” are both about when a relationship breaks up, and how bad it feels. The next three songs, “Drowning, “Desperate Now,” and “Goodbye,” talk about how it might be better sometimes to die than deal with all that pain. Stabbing Westward does this mood the best in the first song, “Drowning,” where it’s all very subdued, soft, and a real mood breaker. “Desperate Now” is more like an opera, whereas “Goodbye” is half-and-half between the two. Five for “Drowning,” four for the others.The next two songs are full of anger and rage. “When I’m Dead” talks about how the other person should have treated them better, while “The Thing I Hate” talks about how we all worry that we’re turning into whatever we hate when we feel miserable. Five stars for each of them.The other songs, “On Your Way Down,” “Everything I Touch (I Break)” and the others are all excellent, nearly perfect.So, as I said, it’s an almost perfect album. The only things that mar it are the occasional flatness of Christopher Hall’s vocals (which could be said to be for emotional effect) and, oddly enough, the layout of the album. It might have worked a bit better if the three down songs “Goodbye,” “Drowning” and “Desperate Now” weren’t all lined up in a row; that lessens their impact. In addition, putting two back to back hard rockers _after_ those three slower, sadder songs is also a bit of unusually odd packaging. If they’d been intermingled, it would have been more of a paradigm of a relationship, as people go through many feelings quickly when a relationship ends.The last song, “Waking Up Beside You” is probably the best song Stabbing Westward ever recorded. It’s emotionally powerful, heartwrenching, and sad. Hall sang it to perfection, shading the lyrics a touch here and there to add emphasis.It’s really a shame Stabbing Westward broke up after their next, self-titled album, because they had a great deal of promise. Still, they left us this album behind, which is better than at least 90% of everything else I’ve heard in the last ten years.A shade under five stars, recommended.