I’m going to start this off by stating that this album, along with all of SW’s work, is not for everyone. I’ve read many mixed opinions about SW all over the net, and I believe that SW is one of those bands that you either love or hate. SW’s music is very dark, and tends to focus on the negative things in life. Christopher Hall said it perfectly once: “There’s two types of people. There’s the kind of people that have music spoon-fed to them over the radio and through Mtv and then there’s the type of people who actively seek out interesting music that means something to them. I think those people have found us.”
Wither, Blister, Burn and Peel, in my opinion, is one of the best albums of all time in a lot of ways. First of all, it is VERY moving. You can feel the agony in Christopher Hall’s voice as he sings about things like depression, isolation, loss and anger. One of my only complaints is that the lyrics do seem a bit amatuer in spots, but I also think that this adds a bit of realism to the music. If you read the lyrics to all of the songs on this album, you will instantly be able to tell what the song is about. Most of the time, I would say that lyrics so straight-forward are hard for people that haven’t been in the same situation to relate to, but I think that just about everyone can relate to all of what Chris is saying on this album.
The other thing that I love about this album is the blend of synthesized instruments and live instruments. Most industrial music tends to have somewhat of a two-dimensional feel, since most of the tracks are all sequenced, or quantized. Take NIN for example… Although I love NIN, it doesn’t move nearly as much as SW. Most industrial music wont make you bob your head unconsiously, it’s just too perfect. But Stabbing Westward is one of the only bands that does a great job of blending techno-fied synthesizers with organic sounding guitars and drums and still has that “groove”.
WBB&P is my favorite SW album, with Darkest Days in a close second. The last line in “Shame” is the most powerful thing I’ve heard in any modern music. The track “Why” is hauntingly beautiful… You can almost see the tears running down Chris’ face when you listen to it. “What Do I Have to Do?” has a very catchy vocal melody, and is probably the one song on the album that anybody can relate to, no matter who you are. “So Wrong” takes a cool approach on industrial music by utilizing a tuplet-type groove instead of the straight-eighths feel that most electronic music thrives on, and also has a great heavy riff. “Sleep” has a very ambient sound to it, which sets the perfect mood for the topic of the song. The last track, “Slipping Away” does something I found very interesting. The track starts off with a garage-band type feel: no synths, no overdubs, just the band rocking out… Then the song becomes completely synth with no live instruments, and wraps up with the perfect blend of the two.
As I said, this album is not for everybody. If you like dark music, or music that is very moving and emotional, I believe you will like this CD. It is far from the testosterone-fueled nu-metal that is flooding today’s radio, but I believe this album has a much more mature sound than most music on the charts today. Check this CD out. You just might find yourself having a new favorite band.