I’m taking a mini-break from writing Part Two of the “Favorite Scenes” portion of my Buffy Retrospective to take you back to the 1990’s. Let us venture back into the world of alternative rock/electronic music and delve deeper into their many sub-genres – especially Industrial Rock/Metal, my favorite sub-genre during the last half of the decade.

Alternative music in the 1990’s was so much different than the music that tries to pass for “Alternative” nowadays. A lot of this hipster rock, emo, screamo, dubstep, metalcore music out today don’t hold a candle to the music that came out in the 1990’s, and I’m not including the pop acts that were popular two decades ago. The music feels soulless, and it has now become the mainstream, whereas ’90s Alt-Rock was still very much underground except for a few acts that started to break into the mainstream (Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, etc.). Music seemed to be more diverse and creative, and a lot of the bands that were popular back then are still chugging away today, trying to relive their glory days, or play smaller venues to their loyal fans who have stayed with them since Day One.

Stabbing Westward was one of those hard-to-define bands that gained success in the mid-’90s, though they released their first record in 1994 and came together a few years before that. They’re a bit hard rock, a dash of industrial, and a smidge of alternative thrown into the music blender to create a sound all of their own. Sadly they are defunct,  but their music lives on through their former lead singer’s current band, The Dreaming. Christopher Hall is still rocking out and playing emotionally heavy music, and that’s cool with me. But when Stabbing Westward first entered my world, they changed it forever.

You could say that Stabbing Westward was one of the more underrated bands of the 1990’s. As I stated above, they played an interesting blend of industrial soundscapes, driving heavy guitars, tribal drum beats, pounding bass lines, and thoughtful lyrics mixed with crushing, sexy, and desperate vocals that ran the gamut of human emotions and relationships. They were often lumped together with Nine Inch Nails, though their sounds were different from one another, but they were part of the Industrial Metal/Rock movement that grew in notoriety in the 1990’s.

I first discovered Stabbing Westward in 1995 when I first heard “What Do I Have To Do?” on the local alternative rock station in Dayton, Ohio. I had heard their music before in the movie Mortal Kombat, but never knew who the artist was (same with Fear Factory’s “Zero Signal,” heard in the Johnny Cage/Scorpion scene in the forest). I was immediately drawn in to the lyrics and the vocals by then-lead singer Christopher Hall, and I loved the music. I was able to connect to their music that I had not been able to in an artist before; truthfully, I got into Alanis Morissette a few months before them and my life was changed for the better – it was thanks to her that I really got into alternative rock and the music I listen to now.

I remember getting their second album, Wither Blister Burn + Peel when it was first released in 1996 and was instantly hooked. All ten tracks are grinding, heavy, haunting and sexy, and there is never a dull moment on the album. The track that stands out to me, and my favorite Stabbing Westward song, is the eerie “Why.” I have had the CD stolen from me several times throughout the years, worn through it once, and finally replaced and have it safely guarded by gargoyles and hydras and demons. Hey – you gotta get a good security system once things get stolen…

Umm…moving along, Stabbing Westward released the epic album Darkest Days in 1998. An album that was broken up in four segments based on the devastation and heartbreak endured in a broken relationship, the song “Save Yourself” appears in the second segment, preceded by “You Complete Me” and followed by the equally awesome “Haunting Me.” “Save Yourself” is one of Stabbing Westward’s heaviest songs, and probably their most popular among fans and listeners who may have experienced this song as their only introduction into Stabbing Westward. “Save Yourself” was also their biggest hit, hitting the #4 spot on the Billboard  US Mainstream Rock Chart and #20 on the Billboard US Modern Rock Chart. The memorable lyrics and chorus are made to be sung out loud, the music makes you want to either mosh, punch someone in the face, or get ready for a coming battle (the first option is the least violent…I think…). This is my “Getting Ready for Work” song, and it charges me up before I start the day.

“I cannot save you, I can’t even save myself, so just save yourself!” – truer words have never been spoken. These lyrics, sung in the chorus, are my motto. I have repeated this to myself many a time because I have to remember to worry about helping myself, and not trying to save everyone. I can’t save them if I can’t even save myself. This song fits the mood of the late 1990’s when many people my age were feeling this way, especially in high school, and it became a mantra for all of us. Hell, whenever I get the rest of my SW-related tattoo finished, these are the words that will surround it as a constant reminder to save one’s self first before trying to save anyone else.

Whenever this song comes on the radio, the video shows up on TV, or it’s being played from CD, my friends and I take a moment to bellow out the lyrics at the tops of our lungs ’cause this song represents high school to us. I have people who constantly ask me the name of the band because they’ve heard the song countless times but never got the band’s name. This song is a great introduction to Stabbing Westward, and it is one of their more memorable tracks, but they do have a great song collection throughout their four released (the band broke up in 2001). The members have gone on to different projects and lives, but this song will always remind of how much Stabbing Westward meant to me growing up, how much their words soothed the savage beast inside, and how this song still resonates with me and my friends today.

Enjoy this killer track from Stabbing Westward,and scream the chorus – you’ll feel a million times better afterwards.

And here are the lyrics in case you need to make sure you’re not singing something completely bizarre and random… ;):

I know your life is empty
And you hate to face this world alone
So you’re searching for an angel
Someone who can make you whole

I can not save you
I can’t even save myself
So just save yourself

I know that you’ve been damaged
Your soul has suffered such abuse
But I am not your savior
I am just as fucked as you

I can not save you
I can’t even save myself
So just save yourself

Please don’t take pity on me
Please don’t take pity on me
Please don’t take pity on me
Please don’t take pity on me

My life has been a nightmare
My soul is fractured to the bone
And if I must be lonely
I think I’d rather be alone

You can not save me
You can’t even save yourself

I can not save you
I can’t even save myself
Save yourself
So just save yourself