Type O Negative came into existence in 1990, two years after the disintegration of bassist/singer/songwriter Peter Steele’s Road Warrior-looking, crossover thrash band Carnivore, who made tons of enemies for their rather non-politically correct stance on the issues of the day.
After his musical hiatus and apparent attempted suicide, Steele recruited guitarist/singer Kenny Hickey, keyboardist Josh Silver and drummer Sal Albrascato and named the group after that rarest of blood types.
Although they began as a ridiculously over the top mix of hardcore punk, doom/sludge metal and goth with a disturbingly anti-social outlook that might or might not have been totally serious, the group became mega-stars with their second studio LP Bloody Kisses and its hit “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare All).” Soon Peter Steele became the goth metal poster boy of the 90s, posing in Playgirl magazine, crooning like the Sisters Of Mercy guy or Peter Murphy and helping fill up concert halls with sexy, black haired, fishnet stocking wearing babes and probably their metal head boyfriends, who jealously guarded their gals for fear they might slip backstage with Peter Steele.
That last part was a joke of course. If you have a strong and healthy relationship, you should never have to guard your significant other. Also my ex shacked up with Dave Brockie from Gwar when we went to see them in 2004.
Then they replaced their original drummer with Johnny Kelly (even though he didn’t actually play on three of the albums he was credited for), released a few more albums and took a hike when Peter Steele passed away in 2010.
Slow, Deep and Hard – Roadrunner – 1991
Written in four hours during a drunken fit of depression, Peter Steele has said how Slow, Deep and Hard was not really the record with which he wanted to represent Type O Negative. And that’s probably a good thing, because some of the views expressed on the record are questionable. I know I’ve probably made regretful statements during fits of drunken rage but, unlike Peter Steele, I haven’t had them immortalized on record.
Slow, Deep and Hard is quite a good and unique record, provided you can sit through the lyrical bile. The album is 58 minutes long and consists of seven tracks. However “Glass Walls of Limbo (Dance Mix)” is nearly seven minutes of Gregorian chants, cracking whips, some guy going “yarghh!” and what sounds like a giant machine slamming a pile of chains onto the ground – is it hell? Purgatory? Is it supposed to represent Peter Steele’s state of mind? – while “The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences” is literally a minute of silence.
That leaves five songs, with the shortest one being a dinky 7:45 and the longest nearly hitting the 13 minute mark. All five are essentially medleys of shorter songs that seem arbitrarily strung together, abruptly going from one part to the next without warning and are given individual names. For instance, opening track “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity” starts with a part called “Anorganic Transmutogenesis (Synthetic Division)”, which alternates between raging hardcore and Melvins-y sludge metal. Then it goes into this light, acoustic, second part called “Coitus Interruptus”, which has the sound of orgasmic female moaning. And finally the song concludes with the ridiculous, pop metal part called “I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else”, where Peter Steele sings the angry tale of a cheating broad who ends up becoming a depressed alcoholic, complete with NYHC-style group chants of “SLUT! WHORE! CUNT!” and the sing-songy and call and response section with the lines “I know you’re fucking someone else (he knows you’re fucking someone else).”
Every song except the pro-suicide anthem “Gravitational Constant” has both speedy hardcore sections and super slow sludge metal sections – okay so maybe I’d call the fast part in “Prelude to Agony” more like Motorhead style, punk metal but you get the point – while “Der Untermensch” and “Xero Tolerance” have fun, happy sounding, Ramones-y, three chord punk parts and “Prelude to Agony” begins with a head bangy, 70s metal part. The gleeful vibe doesn’t really fit with “Der Untermensch” too much but it sure works well with the lyrics for “Xero Tolerance”, in which Steele revels in his tale of tracking down his gal and her lover and killing them both with an axe.
Josh Silver also adds neat textures and melodies, occasionally playing that thick and heavy goth organ to help the slower parts feel even more depressing. There are some clanking noises and sound bites to help contribute to the oppressive mood as well. Peter Steele is already playing his bass through some sort of distortion effect but unfortunately the guitars aren’t heavy at all, sounding like they’re way in the back ground and the drums are too loud and sound like they were recorded in a cave. And I highly doubt the group was aiming for Samhain-style, death rock production. Also not every riff is a killer either. Some of the slower parts drag on too long.
Now that I’ve described the music fairly accurately, let’s discuss the vocals and what Peter Steele is saying with them.
On Slow, Deep and Hard, Steele primarily shouts every line in his pissed off, brawny voice like a raging derelict. So not only does he sound angry like your typical metal or hardcore singer, he also sounds insane. On a couple occasions, he uses that sexxxy baritone voice, which would make the goth girls swoon on the group’s next album but those occasions are rare.
And with those pissed off, nutsoid vocals Steele has some nasty things to say about cheating women, welfare recipients and himself. Personally speaking, I have no problem with the lyrics to “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity.” It’s not exactly nice to call someone a “slut”, “whore”, “cunt” or “twat” but the person in question is one woman, not the whole gender, so it’s not exactly fair to label him a misogynist for that. Similarly the song “Xero Tolerance” can’t really be called misogynistic either since the tale it tells involves getting really drunk, finding your girlfriend and her lover and killing them both with an axe. Violent and insane? Sure. Misogynistic? Not really.
The true culprits on the album and probably why Type O Negative were initially branded by some as racists and misogynists are “Der Untermensch” and “Prelude to Agony.” The latter claims that, “for the crime of burning me/ I give thee Jackhammerape”, followed by chants of “pain” and the sound of a grinding jackhammer and a woman shrieking. I don’t know how far in the gutter one’s mind has to go to feel okay with releasing something like that to the public.
And, as far as “Der Untermensch” goes, Steele already caused enough controversy for Agnostic Front when he wrote the similarly themed “Public Assistance” for their Cause for Alarm album five years earlier. That song sounds damn near congenial in comparison, merely suggesting that to quell the problem of welfare leeches – while also blatantly claiming them to all be minorities – you simply force them to work in the sewers and other community service endeavors. Agnostic Front have pretty much apologized for the song in later years, claiming that the song is simply telling people to work for a living and be able to feed their kids (makes jerkoff motion).
“Der Untermensch”, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as nice. It begins with angry but inoffensive lines like “hey you on public assistance/why don’t you get a job/sell some dope and buy some pride/it’s the only thing you couldn’t rob/how does it feel to live for free?/Get off society’s back/skells like you allowed to live/you wonder why we’re taxed.”
Then Steele goes on to say “poor Tawana gets born with a birth defect/but it only increases your welfare checks”, followed by referring to “welfare recipients” as “subhuman scum” and then makes the claim, “if you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t vote” – which is fair, I guess, but – “so get in line and get back on the boat” – uh, who should get back on what boat? And finally, “I’d love tear down all those projects/kiss my ass, home relief rejects.”
Peter Steele must have known that the hardcore and metal scene was crawling with Nazi-Skinheads at the time. I’m all for bashing lazy people who don’t want to work, but calling out a specific group of people who do it and using terms like “subhuman scum”, advocating “getting back on the boat” and, for crying out loud, calling a song by a German title that translates to “Subhuman Creature” even makes ME a little uncomfortable. Am I allowed to say that without being called a “PC faggot”?
The Origin of the Feces – Roadrunner – 1992
I’m not exactly sure what would prompt a band to release a fake live album that features most of the songs from their first album right after their first album came out and package it with a spread anus on the cover and include an insert with excrement covered photos of each band member and then reissue it with a less gross cover and insert and expand the track list with an excruciatingly slow cover of Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, which also has the “Iron Man” riff in it for some reason, but, if such a thing is what you are looking for, such a thing exists.
Indeed The Origin of the Feces was recorded live in the studio and features four songs from Slow, Deep and Hard – which, for some reason, were given new titles – a two minute, goth rock throwaway called “Are You Afraid” and a cover of “Hey Joe” with the title changed to “Hey Pete” and the lyrics about Peter Steele tracking his girl down and chopping her cheatin’ ass up with an axe inserted right before the fun, boppy, surf punk part of “Xero Tolerance”, where he also tracks his girl down and chops her cheatin’ ass up with an axe. Hey, the story was so good, he had to tell it twice.
But yes “I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else” is actually “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity”, “Gravity” is “Gravitational Constant”, “Pain” is “Prelude to Agony” and “Kill You Tonight” is “Xero Tolerance.” Sadly “Der Untermensch” didn’t make the cut but the band plays a few riffs from it here and there. Also the band chops off the 70s metal part of “Pelude to Agony”, leaving only the fast, punk part where Peter Steele sings about raping the girl with the jackhammer and then says “pain” over and over again.
Speaking of singing, Peter Steele sounds like he’s having way more fun on The Origin of the Feces than on Slow, Deep and Hard, sounding more like an actual singer rather than the pissed off, sociopath from the first album. And when I say he sings the verse to “Pain”, I mean he literally added new vocal melodies to the already existing lyrics that he was initially just angrily shouting on the first album. He also really emphasizes the “jackhammerape” line and repeats it a few times because he’s a classy guy.
Some things you’ll hear on this album include:
- Peter Steele stopping the show on account of a bomb threat.
- Peter Steele calling the audience back and saying, “Okay, let’s get this over with.”
- The sound of glass breaking followed by Peter Steele saying, “if you’re going to throw a bottle, why don’t you come up here and do it.”
- The “slut, whore, cunt” section of “I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else” sung once with German accents so “slut” sounds like “slewt” and “cunt” sounds like “coont.”
- Peter Steele shouting “I can see god!” during the slow parts in “Gravity.”
- Peter Steele singing the Ramones homage/parody “second verse, worse than the first” during the fun, boppy part of “Kill You Tonight.”
- Brief homage to some 80s pop song that I can’t remember at the moment during that same part of “Kill You Tonight.”
- Peter Steele and Kenny Hickey singing the second verse of “Kill You Tonight” with thick British accents.
- Some extra parts in some songs or something.
- “Are You Afraid” not being a very good song.
As mentioned earlier, the group expanded the track list with a newly recorded cover of “Paranoid”, turning the uptempo, 2:45 long Sabbath hit into a slow, dreary pile of melancholy sadness. The band plays the song at 50 beats per minute with Josh Silver playing depressing little melodies on his keyboard while Peter Steele sings in his low, gothic voice, showing way more range than Ozzy. But, just so you know the group isn’t completely serious, they throw in the “Iron Man” riff after the first verse for shits and giggles.
On a final note, the production on The Origin of the Feces is only slightly better than that on Slow, Deep and Hard. See, it’s a “live” album so it’s not supposed to sound like it was given the professional studio treatment and it honestly is a lot of fun to hear an account, even if fake, of what a Type O Negative show was like in the early days.
Bloody Kisses – Roadrunner – 1993
Type O Negative is born anew; releasing a heavy, dark yet thoroughly melodic and ingenious masterpiece into the 90s rock scene. And I’m being completely serious here. In a music scene dominated by bands like White Zombie, Pantera, Biohazard and Machine Head, who proved that you don’t melodies AT ALL to sell tons of records, Blood Kisses really is something else!
Pissed off epithets about bashing welfare recipients and disturbing stories about chopping up or raping cheating lovers with jackhammers are a thing of the past; so is painfully slow, Melvins-y sludge metal and inappropriately happy, Ramones-y punk. The hardcore is as well for the most part except for “Kill All the White People” and “We Hate Everyone.” I love those songs, mind you and I prefer having both of those on Bloody Kisses rather than removing them in favor of “Suspended in Dusk”, which they did for the digipak release of the album. But both of those do seem more like they’d belong on Slow, Deep and Hard or The Origin of the Feces rather than Bloody Kisses. Actually, I lie. Even though “We Hate Everyone” is fast and has a hardcore riff and speedy, double kick drumming, Steele sings the lyrics in his sexy baritone, only shouting during the “we don’t care what you think” part. He also sings, “woa-woa-woa-woa” over the riff like he’s trying to be the Misfits or something. And the song has a slower, melodic part as well.
But, I digress.
Bloody Kisses gets called goth metal, a combination of classic hard rock and heavy metal riffs, 80s sounding keyboard parts, church organ solos, acoustic guitars and Peter Steele’s pained, sexy and low, baritone voice. And, although they are primarily known for the blasphemous, Jesus Christ masturbation fantasy “Christian Woman” and the goth spoof “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare All)”, to simply call Type O Negative a cross between Sisters Of Mercy and Black Sabbath would not be entirely accurate.
In addition to the “goth” and the “metal”, there’s plenty of other stuff, such as the happy sun shiny 60s psychedelic jam in “Set Me on Fire”, the surfy keyboard bits and drumming in “Blood and Fire”, the totally gorgeous Beatles-inspired pop segments in “Too Late: Frozen” and the backward tapes and sitar sounds in “Can’t Lose You.” And that cover of “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Croft is just amazing, taking the original hippy summer song and making it super heavy but keeping the melody perfectly intact.
And, since you are in it for “goth metal”, it’s there. Granted “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare All)” is obviously meant as a joke with lines like, “she’s got a date at midnight with Nosferatu/ Lilly Munster ain’t got nothin’ on you” and “you wanna go out ‘cause it’s raining and snowing/but you can’t go out ‘cause you’re roots are showing” or “loving you was like loving the dead” along with fun little bits like the Adams Family motif but damn are those riffs and creepy little piano bits awesome. Also, for being an alleged goth album, it’s not particularly depressing. Okay, “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family)” is incredibly depressing with its snail like pace, heavy riffs, minor note piano parts, suicide themed lyrics and Peter Steele’s pained pleas of “please don’t go” but that’s about it. “Blood and Fire” is just a slightly darker breakup song and “Too Late: Frozen” has a depressing and slow part but, for the most part sounds a bit too upbeat to contain the lines, “was everything we had just a joke/I’ve run out of patience, tears and hope/love does not conquer all.”
I also haven’t said very much about Kenny Hickey’s guitar playing. See, once your strip away all of the gothic window dressing, Type O Negative is just a classic hard rock/heavy metal band stuck in the 90s. Steele’s riffs are all out of the 70s – hell “Christian Woman” uses a cowbell during the “Jesus Christ looks like me” segment. And even though Peter Steele actually wrote the songs, Hickey’s tight, economic playing is what holds the songs together. He sorta reminds me of John Christ from Danzig – playing basic riffs but throwing in accents and arpeggios and playing a few guitar solos throughout.
And that production… my goodness, is it good! The fact that it was going to be an improvement over Slow, Deep and Hard goes without saying since that was just a demo that was shoddily recorded live in the studio in a couple days. But what an improvement! The guitar is thick, heavy and distorted without being overly compressed, the drums sound loud but natural and I absolutely love Peter Steele’s fuzzed out bass tone. It’s essentially the perfect production for this type of music.
I mentioned economical, which is a strange word to use when describing a CD that’s 73 minutes long but, indeed it is! Every CD they would release henceforth would be about the same length, but Bloody Kisses is the only Type O Negative album which I can say that every second counts and not a single song could or should be cut out. It’s that good. There are also some non-song, sound-bite tracks on Bloody Kisses but fuck those.
October Rust – Roadrunner – 1996
Eek! What THE FUCK happened?! What is this easy listening crap? Why did Kenny Hickey replace his awesome guitar tone with a vacuum cleaner? From the opening track “Love You to Death”, I knew there would be trouble.
Whereas Bloody Kisses is a totally awesome, hard rock/heavy metal album that utilizes goth elements like church organ and baritone singing, October Rust is a goth record for girls – tons of piano, ambient synths, acoustic guitars, moaning female backup vocals and barely any sign that Type O is a ROCK band. And most of the songs are so slow!
“Christian Woman”, “Black No. 1”, “Too Late: Frozen” and “Blood and Fire” may not be speed metal, but you can still rock out to ‘em. Whereas most of the songs on October Rust are these listless ballads that have no forward propulsion and are seemingly designed to put you in a sad or romantic mood. And that can work for a bit, with a few pretty melodies here and there, but I certainly don’t want a whole album of this kinda stuff! I can barely sit and listen to it, so I wonder how they could stand on stage and play it for a live audience. Or were they trying to be the Nick Cave of the metal scene?
Only two songs on October Rust could fit on Bloody Kisses. Conveniently those are saved for the end; they are “Wolf Moon (Including Zoanthropic Paranoia)”, with its driving, mid-tempo, headbanging beat and chugging guitars and “Haunted”, which, though slow, is eerie and dark rather sad and weepy. Other songs such as “Burnt Flowers Fallen”, “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)”, “In Praise of Bacchus” and “Die With Me” have a heavy riff or two but it’s usually followed by a totally light part or buried under wussy keyboards. And daaamn… seriously, “Be My Druidess” could easily pass for a Cure song or something of similar ilk with its totally pussified, 80s guitar tone – sadly, I like it.
The only other songs that will really get your toe tapping are the absolutely hilarious, goth-pop song “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend”, which probably has the most ridiculous keyboard line that was ever recorded after the 80s and their cover of “Cinnamon Girl”, which the group managed to turn into a Stone Roses song.
And that’s not to say I’m knocking Type O Negative for trying something different. There are some fine melodies throughout October Rust so, if the whole review took such a negative tone, I apologize. It’s just that the light melodies and slow tempos can get a bit tiring by the end; the music isn’t weird and dense like Swans or Neurosis nor hooky enough like their last CD to sustain itself for 73 minutes. Typo O Negative is a heavy metal band; their raison d’etre is playing Sabbathy riffs with keyboard accompaniment, not creating a romantic mood with synths and ambience.
It’s hard to tell how sincere the group was being when they made October Rust. Peter Steele said in interviews that the label wanted a more commercial album but this is one strange way of going about it. October Rust literally sounds like love songs written for the girl Peter Steele was making fun of in “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare All).” Also, original drummer Sal Albrascato was replaced by Johnny Kelly but I read somewhere they used a drum machine on October Rust and the two albums that followed.
World Coming Down – Roadrunner – 1999
Slow, heavy and depressing, World Coming Down is like the cartoon version of what Type O Negative is known for. Thankfully they’ve cranked the guitars up loud in the mix and dropped the corny, 80s goth schtick from the last album. But, now they’re just a big, punishing pile of sadness that is out to remind you how miserable life on this here globe can be.
Well, not EVERY track is like that, mind you. But, if you want to be given reasons to kill yourself, you’ll find them in “White Slavery”, “Everyone I Love Is Dead”, “Everything Dies” and “World Coming Down.” It’s so over the top in its negativity, it’s almost laughable until you realize that at least with the two “Every/Dead/Dies” tracks, those are coming from a real place since, at the time, a lot of Peter Steele’s friends and family were passing away in rapid numbers.
World Coming Down is essentially a doom metal record that incorporates church organ, synthesizers, oppressive clanking noises, Gregorian chanty-churchy crap and little light bits thrown into the mix. The band has even brought back the 60s psychedelic treatments, especially the weird effects in “Who Will Save the Sane?” and the sitar sounds in “World Coming Down.” The guitars this time are tuned REALLY low and made really fuzzy like they’re trying to be Electric Wizard or something and, as mentioned, the songs are all predominantly as slow as a bulldozer, plowing its way through a particularly dense pile of sludge. But, unlike its predecessor, World Coming Down even rocks during the depressing songs and it doesn’t waste your time with corny, 80s, novelty bullshit.
It’s melodic too! Those Beatles-inspired melodies that people keep throwing at Type O Negative are all over this thing! Check out the perrrty singing and keyboards on “Who Will Save the Sane?” atop the ass-heavy guitar riffs! It’s cool! Or Steele’s singing on “World Coming Down”, which sounds like some Beatles song played really slowly; if I could only remember which one. Maybe “She Said, She Said”? YEAH, holy shit! Listen to “She Said, She Said” and “World Coming Down”! They’re like the same song only one is really slow, heavy and 11 minutes long. Guess which one.
World Coming Down isn’t ALL negativity, self-hate and depression! This is Type O Negative after all, not Neurosis or Today Is The Day! Regardless of how awful the world is, Steele lightens the mood with his sardonic humor and songs that have nothing to do with how he’s feeling inside.
Case in point you’ve got the romantic “Pyretta Blaze”, with its total pop chorus that goes “you are the first will be my last/will be my final words/ah, Pyretta Blaze”; a goth-metal love song called “Creepy Green Light” with the cool line, “I find myself drawn to her shadow domain”; the hilariously “scaaaary” “All Hallows Eve”, complete with Steele singing the ridiculous lines “Saint Lucifer hear me praying to thee/on this eve of all saints/high be the price but then nothing is free/my soul I’ll gladly trade” in his patented, trilled R, vampire voice.
And, for Christ’s sake, there’s the seven minute Beatles medley at the end which wonderfully mashes up “Day Tripper”, “If I Needed Someone” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” into the Type O stew. The whole thing is filled with Peter Steele’s typical sense of humor. It starts with a hilariously pissed off take on “Day Tripper”, containing angry group shouts of “DAYTRIPPER!” and the riff played all heavy and Sabbathy like, then it goes into a more or less straightforward “If I Needed Someone”, except that the 60s rock riff is played with WAY too much distortion and then, it all ends with a slow, painful and depressing version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, with Josh Silver’s sad keyboard backing up the main riff. Not to mention that the “Got a good reason for taking the easy way out” line in “Day Tripper” is somehow fitting of Steele’s world view.
The above paragraph makes me wonder if it’s bad that my favorite song on World Coming Down is a medley of covers. I also must say that I do not like “Everything Dies”; it may be based on reality but that whole “I loved my dad/then he died/I loved my mom/then she died” make the song sound kinda dopey. And I don’t like the piano in the verses. Does Josh Silver think he’s Elton John now? Also I finally am starting to feel that Type O could have shortened a song or two. And what’s with putting the sounds of a woman crying and a person flat lining right before “Pyretta Blaze”? That’s not appropriate sound bite placement!
Life Is Killing Me – Roadrunner – 2003
Woo hoo! Grab the Champaign and celebrate! Type O Negative are playing fast again! Self-loathing and negativity notwithstanding, Life Is Killing Me has songs that actually make you want to bang your head, pound your fist and jump all over your bedroom!
Like the last album, the guitars are super loud and tuned super low but, the tempos actually range from slow to normal to actually fast and the songs are considerably shorter this time around! The album is still hella long but, rather than have nine long tunes, the group has busted it up into 13 or so shorter songs (15 if you count the intro and brief segue piece “Drunk in Paris”). Not that most people would consider five, six and seven minute songs to be short, but compared with the 11 minute epics on previous albums, they’re practically pop songs. In addition to that, there are actually three and four minute songs on the album as well! Right after the ridiculous into track “Thir13teen (‘The Munsters’ TV Show Theme cover)”, a not at all cover of the Munsters’ theme song, the album gets right to it with an AWESOME, punky yet melodic rocker called “I Don’t Wanna Be.”
Henceforth, fans will notice familiar elements in the group’s sound – the classic heavy rock riffs, the psychedelic 60s elements (sitar sounds, hand-claps), the Beatles pop melodies (especially “(We Were) Electrocute” and “IYDKMIGTHTKY (Gimme That)”, jeeezus!) and, of course, Peter Steele’s mopey singing – but, as mentioned before, the one big distinction between Life Is Killing Me and its predecessor is that, regardless of how sad or self-pitying the album can get, the songs for the most part rock out.
Also, completely absent is Josh Silver’s use of church organ. His keyboards still add ambience, sad little melodies atop the riffs and some new things the group hasn’t done before – such as the proggy synth intro on “Life Is Killing Me” and the wooshing spacey sounds on “…A Dish Best Served Coldly” – but, I don’t know how people can call Type O a goth band anymore when songs like “Less Than Zero (<0)”, “Todd’s Ship Gods (Above All Things)”, “Life Is Killing Me”, “How Could She?” and “The Dream Is Dead” contain riffs and grooves right out of the Zeppelin/Sabbath/Purple riff book; while “I Don’t Wanna Be”, “I Like Goils” and their “Angry Inch” cover are punk songs!
Hell, “How Could She?”, following its totally Zeppelin, funky-ass groove and melodic part where the lyrics are just naming off a bunch of famous female TV personalities, contains a fast Motorhead-style, thrash part in which Steele yells this awesome set of lines, “Walt Disney or Hanna-Barbera/Black or white, stunning Technicolor/Warner Brothers and the A.A.P./I’ve become addicted to TV.” See? It’s a hard rock album!
Okay, I lied a little bit; they do try to placate the goth crowd a little with “…A Dish Best Served Coldly” and “Nettie”, with acoustic guitar parts, “spookie” atmosphere, female moaning backup vocals and that really low, Sisters Of Mercy singing, but they’re otherwise still built around Sabbath riffs. Also, if you’re looking for what could easily be described as Type O’s obnoxiously sugary pop 60s song, there’s “(We Were) Electrocute.”
Complaints? Yeah. At 75 minutes, the album is too damn long. It should have just ended on a fast note with “The Angry Inch” because “Anesthesia” and “The Dream Is Dead” don’t do anything that Type O hasn’t done better elsewhere – the former being slow, heavy and sad and the latter throwing Beatles melodies atop Sabbathy riffs.
I don’t want to end this review on such a negative note. I’m glad a group like Type O Negative existed to give the 90s rock kids a taste of what was good about music from generations past. I just wish they’d edit their albums a little better because it’s not likely that they’re going to give the world another Bloody Kisses.
Dead Again – SPV/Steamhammer – 2007
So, with October Rust, they lost their muse and drifted into easy listening ballads and 80s, novelty tomfoolery. Then, on World Coming Down, they canned that nonsense for slow, heavy ass depressing songs about people dying. And then, with Life Is Killing Me, while still keeping things depressing, they kicked up the speed. And, on the final Type O studio album, Dead Again, the group have… put a few fast songs at the front and the middle of an album that otherwise breaks no new ground.
Type O Negative never again made an album as good as Bloody Kisses prior to Peter Steele’s death but, with Dead Again, they have, at very least brought back some of the elements that made that one so enjoyable. Aside from the expected Sabbathy riffs, Beatles-melodies and 60s influences, hardcore and thrash have found their way back into the group’s sound. Also drummer Johnny Kelly is actually playing on the album (they programmed all of the drums on the previous three for some reason), Peter Steele is angrily shouting (and cussing) way more this time and there are no between song sound-bites to slow up the album’s flow.
The pace for Dead Again seems like it’s going to be high-speed thanks to the one-two punch of “Dead Again” and “Tripping a Blind Man”, but unfortunately the album slows down and treads familiar territory by the third song. And, with only ten songs, 77 minutes is way too damn long; especially the 14 minute “These Three Things.” Maybe some people enjoy it because it sounds exactly like Type O Negative.
Now you might think I’m contradicting myself by claiming that Type O haven’t done anything new yet I am a fan of bands like AC/DC, Ramones and Motorhead, all of whose bodies of works are pretty damn repetitive. However, unlike Type O Negative, their songs are short, concise and catchy! Take the song “She Burned Me Down.” It starts off pretty okay with a solid riff but very quickly slows down into the typical Peter Steele moaning and groaning with very lyrical themes we’ve heard before in lines like “every time I see her start a fire/I get higher” – not to mention that one of the riffs sounds mighty close to one in “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family).”
On the plus side, there are faster, shorter and more rocking songs between the longer ones such as the punky “Halloween in Heaven”, hardcore speed “Some Stupid Tomorrow” and the 70s metal homage “An Ode to Locksmiths”, which contains some catchy, shouted vocals. And, if I’m not mistaken, parts of album closer “Hail and Farewell to Britain” are supposed to be a Deep Purple tribute, complete with Jon Lord style keyboard break and Ian Gillan style laughs!
But I just can’t figure out the lyrics to “These Three Things.”
The child is torn from the womb unbaptised
There’s no question it’s infanticide
I’m guilty so therefore condemned
Destroying angels must come to an end
Now in Limbo deprived of paradise not so nice
At the end I’ll escort you to hell
The dark one’s forces lock your flaming cell
To murder the one’s unborn
The worst sin you’ve ever performed
There are two other things I must tell, know them well
With due respect heed these words of caution
If considering an abortion
If you did boiling sulfur
To which I won’t concur
Leading to a path of misfortune no one won
Of a land, land that shuns the son
So alien call it area 5-1
Should there be failure to convert Zion?
What came as a lamb returning as a lion
Not a nation but a self proclaimed state
Since the year of our Lord 1-9-4-8
The road to redemption leads to through deserts
Rocky though the trip through is well worth it
I am the duel of the fisherman Simon
He brought alpha, omega, yes I’m the one
The twins fell beginning Armageddon
So the whore too who dwelleth in Babylon
All his people gathered round – through forgiveness salvation found
At first it sounds like an anti-abortion song, but then it moves onto being about Israel? I read somewhere that Peter Steele found God or something so I understand why he would write an anti-abortion song. But what does the second half of the song, the part where he goes “Not a nation but a self proclaimed state/Since the year of our Lord 1-9-4-8”, have to do with anything? The message seems a little muddled if you ask me and, in every google search I did, there’s nothing from the horse’s mouth to answer to this question. Read straight it just sounds like a condemnation of Israel for occupying Palestinian land, a pretty common view that many left-leaning people take, but what does that have to do with the first half of the song? And, furthermore, it seems strange that someone with such a conservative view towards abortion would take such a left-wing view towards Israel.
Too bad Peter Steele ain’t around no more to ask!
And that covers it. In 2010, after finding god and getting sober, Peter Steele passed away.