Stabbing Westward has always held a soft spot in my heart because of some of the things they’ve done in the past, but I actually let this release slip by me for a while because I was afraid it would be much of the same and that’s not what I wanted. Perhaps it was overexposure to the same products that made me think this, with too much industrial hitting the market and not soothing the soul, or perhaps I simply wasn’t in the mood for that type of darkness in the moment. Sometimes that happens and sometimes you get tired of screaming into the emptiness, wanting something a little more touching because the anger eventually subsides. Whatever the reason initially, I recently acquired the need to look and see what I passed up, and what I let get by me was yet another evolution in a band that already audio taste anyhow. One of the reasons quite a few people objected to this album was because it mellowed between releases and because the band went for slower ballads instead of anger. Perhaps the phrasing has been more akin to the words “selling out” and the criticism of that move said that this wasn’t widely accepted, but that is a bit unfair and doesn’t speak on the work itself. Instead, that speaks of set expectations by an audience that don’t want a band to change, hoping to capsulate a little spark of feeling that most would tire of if they really thought on it. Good bands actually evolve as they move forward, putting out different types of music, because staying the same and trying to reproduce hits from the past isn’t actually a form of expressional validity. Instead, that is what one would truly call selling out, terming it better with the words “buying in,” and that’s not what Stabbing Westward did at all. There was a song or two on the album that I might go as far as to call electronic, with “television” using some odd background sounds as a beat, but most of these weren’t actually motivated by a harsh beats. Instead, the music is more melodic than I expected, allowing Christopher Hall to use his voice and to use it well. This allowed for songs touching on themes like love and touching on them in ways that were sometimes beautiful and sometimes tragic, defying some of the restraints that other albums had. This isn’t to say that the other albums were limited, mind you, but to instead say that songs like “I Remember” have sad themes that haven’t been produced by Stabbing Westward like this before. Even though the themes of disappointment in songs like “Perfect” and “high” have occurred before, they take on new life herein. I personally thought that this album had a little more regret in it than some of the other albums I’ve heard, with alot of the anger that the previous releases had falling by the wayside. Just check out the song “Wasted” to see what I mean. This piece, as a whole, sounded more like tracks motivated by regret and reflection, love and its hardships taking the driver’s seat and asking questions many of us have oftentimes asked, and that seems to add another spectrum to Stabbing Westward’s body of work. For that reason, I’d highly recommend it to Stabbing Westward fans that can stand the idea that some things can change and still remain the same, and I’d also tout it to others to at least sample. I’m actually happy I bought it.