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The first time I heard “Waking Up Beside You” by Stabbing Westward, I was sixteen and six months into my relationship with Sarah, the first real love of my life. This was my first exposure to genuine industrial music, not the watered-down, generic prattle that drones on the local Top 40 FM stations, but true, emotion-laden industrial music. The influence is industry, not technology: pistons, grease, gears, oil. It’s real, it’s sweaty, it’s dirty, and it’s motivated. There’s a natural, repetitive rhythm that’s primal and pulsing, raw emotion, fear, anger, love, hate, elation, depression; nothing is half-felt. This music is a study in extremes. The organic cadence paradoxically produced by electronic components finds direction through overdriven electric guitars, which, in turn, provide a conduit for climbing, yearning vocals that pierce their way into your mind like a ship breaking still waters leaving echoing waves in its path. The music is pure flow; complimenting the longing and regret of the lyrics with harmonizing chord progressions and layered measures of four/four time. I found in this song everything I wanted to feel about love. I’d look into Sarah’s eyes and search fervently for a sign, the slightest indication that we could have something together, something powerful and meaningful, something Chris Hall would put words to and sing to the world; I tried, but I found nothing. The song had become something even more meaningful to me now; no longer a story of loss and regret, it was now a description of an ideal, a goal, symbolizing the true connection and understanding I secretly feared I might never find with another person but would always hope and strive for. I left Sarah, but I kept this song.
I do what I can.
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