Sunday, June 03, 2007
Type O Negative - World Coming Down & Dead Again (Short)
Continuing into "essential gothic albums" (that are not really gothic, but can be considered as such) is the massive "World Coming Down" album. Recorded under a backdrop of drugs, alcohol, multiple deaths in the family, and personal problems (and this is BEFORE his relatively recent incarceration, rehab, institutionalization, and subsequent conversion back to Roman Catholicism after many years as an atheist), the album is a bleak descent into ironic despair, retrospection, frustration, melancholic mourning, and death, containing little of the self-mockery of the gothic culture and the band itself, instead presenting Type O's most thematically straightforward album to date.
As is usual for Type O Negative, fuzzed-out guitar dirges, assertive basslines, and melodic keyboard interludes are the order of the day. Many of the songs feature death, both figuratively and literally (as is the case in "Everyone I Love Is Dead" and the classic "Everything Dies"). The sense of loss and longing is also present in nearly every song. Peter Steele's vocals also exhibit a refreshing sense of variety throughout the album, from near-spoken murmuring, his traditional vampiric croon, and anguished screaming as well. Emotional without being overbearing or pretentious, it is the sound of a man recognizing the descent of his fortunes and emotions, being fully aware of the fact and not recognizing any escape from the plunge.
"Everything Dies", the popular live Type O Negative favorite, is one of the best songs on the album (although it is difficult to conclusively choose a "best" track from the album, given the fact that many of them are equally good in different ways). It basically summarizes the feelings present throughout the album in a single song, as well as being a powerfully emotional work of depression, fear, and self-loathing. The guitar solo and keyboard break towards the end are also quite impressive as well, yet neither of these elements overly intrude in the mix, yet are instead presented as logical segments which usher in the end of the song.
There are also several Type O Negative "staples" and curveballs thrown in. Included in this group is a song about Halloween ("All Hallow's Eve"), a slightly brighter song called "Who Will Save The Sane?" (featuring some of Steele's most surreal lyrics to date, with weird words such as "technochocolate" and "periodic tableware" appearing now and again), and a Beatles song trio titled "Day Tripper (Medley)". Thankfully, it is at the end of the album, so it does not seriously disturb the thematic continuity of the album, and as a song it is quite interesting as well (literally showing where the moniker "The Drab Four" originated).
Also, there are three short "death sequences" (for lack of a better term) scattered throughout the album, fittingly entitled "Sinus", "Liver" and "Lung" (the body part which is being portrayed failing in each piece). Although some people may be annoyed at their inclusion, I feel that they are appropriate and essential to the album's flow. As miniature dark ambience and unsettling noise interludes they are quite effective (especially "Liver", featuring cheering crowds, pouring sounds, and at last an unanswered telephone call).
Compared to the band's earlier work, the album was not as well received, but in my opinion they have yet to surpass this album. Though it is somewhat self-indulgent towards the depressive spectrum of emotions, it can be forgiven when considering that this is an honest expression of Peter Steele's life at the time. Definitely not a record one can listen to in any circumstance, it is quite effective when traveling through life points (or perhaps whenever you want to listen to less-than-happy music that still manages to be catchy and memorable).
PS: A quick word on the new album "Dead Again", since I decided not to do a review since it has been heavily reviewed elsewhere already: I am basically ambivalent and undecided regarding my feelings on the album. Musically, the album is top-notch as well, although (as started on the previous album "Life Is Killing Me") the song selection is slightly skewed towards the faster, up-tempo songs. However, the conversion of Peter Steele has been a cause of some concern among many fans. Personally, it does not seem to me that big of an issue. Granted, I do not agree with Roman Catholicism at all, but that does not mean I am going to hold anyone else (especially the singer of a rock band) against it. I especially will not make ridiculous claims, such as "Jesus is now in every Type O Negative song" that other people have been flinging around. Steele himself has stated in interviews that the specifics of his faith are private (as they should be). I think Type O Negative's lyrics have always been open to interpretation (although many are based on Steele's personal experiences, such as "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" and "Everything Dies"). While many of the songs find Type O Negative treading water, a few are among their personal best, mainly "Dead Again", "September Sun", and "Tripping A Blind Man" (especially with the catchy choruses towards the end of the song). The true test of the Type O Negative fan base will likely arive with the next album. Until then, relive old classics with "World Coming Down" (and "October Rust", for a slightly, but not much, brighter experience).
PPS: The bonus live CD on "Dead Again" is, unlike the actual album, undeniably awesome, featuring excellent renditions of "Everything Dies", "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend", "Love You To Death", and "Black No. 1".
Type O Negative