Slow, Deep and Hard

Type O Negative


Compared to many of the albums to follow, Type O's debut almost sounds like a different band in hindsight, and certainly leaves a lot to be desired after hearing albums like Bloody Kisses and Life is Killing Me (just to name a few).  But taken on its own accord, SDAH is an interesting album in its own right, and actually shows flashes of brilliance on occasion, none more evident than on the album's epic opening track ("Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity").  This song is kind of a good microcosm of SDAH as a whole...it's thrashy, droning, melodic, angry, bleak, terrible, brilliant, and pretty damn funny and infectious at times.  The rest of the album is pretty bleak, pretty sludgy, occasionally campy, bitter, self-loathing, and generally pretty aggressive compared to the band's future output.  Peter Steele definitely excersizes a lot of demons on this album, as one or more women had definitely screwed him up mentally prior to recording this album.  He never sounded more angry or sadistic on an album before, but personally I've always found his campy rants pretty GD hilarious on most of this album.  I've always enjoyed this album because it's so different from the band's other work.  It's certainly unfriendly, and rough around the edges, but I've always gotten a kick out of it personally.


The Origin of the Feces

Type O Negative


For people that don't understand why I think Slow Deep and Hard was a pretty hilarious album, there's Origin of the Feces, which is pretty self-explanatory.  This is actually a fake live album (featuring a rather hostile/unimpressed fake audience) that mostly consists of tracks off of SDAH, along with a couple of new tracks which are actually pretty good.  Peter Steele performs these songs in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, which accentuates the humor that is in abundance on this album.  It really is so bad it's good sometimes.  It's funny, but unless you really understand Type O Negative, chances are you're not going to get the joke.


Bloody Kisses

Type O Negative


Bloody Kisses was the album that took Type O Negative from being a misfit, mediocore industrial/thrash/sludge-rock band to a much more serious, melodic, dynamic goth-rock band.  This is the album where the boys from Brooklyn got serious (but not too serious, it's Type O Negative) about their craft as musicians, and the result was one of the most surprisingly beautiful, melodic, wide-ranging collection of songs the group would ever put out on a single album.  Yes, Type O's patented fuzzy, Black-Sabbath inspired sludge is here in all it's glory, but there's also shades of Beatlesesque pop in many of the songs, angelic female voices, druid chanting, acoustic guitar, cheesey keyboards, thrash-metal, odes to classic-rock, punk-rock, plenty of campy industrial flavored samples/skits, and some pretty damn catchy songs to boot, some of which could be described as, dare I say, poppy?

But make no mistake, this is not a cheery album.  On the contrary, it's actually quite depressing for the most part, as the majority of the album sounds like one long drawn-out funeral.  This largely has to do with frontman Peter Steele's low-baratone voice that sounds like it's coming straight out of Transylvania, coupled with Josh Silver's atmospheric organ contributions that definitely add a campy, Halloween-esq feel to the album. 

And while this vibe can certainly be off-putting to some people, it is definitely hard to deny that there is not some original, compelling music on Bloody Kisses.  Take the first song on the album "Christian Woman".  An incredibly dark, beautiful, and dymanic number, it is essentially 3 songs combined into 1 epic masterpiece of a song.  I won't bother trying to describe it, as words simply cannot do it justice.  It's quite sprawling and a Type O classic.  For my money, it's the best song they've ever wrote.  Dark, beautiful, and it rocks.  Classic Type O indeed.

Another classic on the album, and a concert-staple of the band, is "Black No 1".  If you thought "Christian Woman" was a long song, wait till you soak in "Black No 1" which clocks in at over 11 minutes.  This song stands out for it's memorable, chant-along chorus and several campy twist and turns, but for my money, the best part of the song may be the drum-solo outro the last couple of minutes.  Very cool ending to another epic song.

After a campy skit that sounds like something from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Type O kicks it up a notch with the thrashy "Kill All The White People" which is a lot of fun.  Then the band's trademark sense of humor arises with their cover of Seals & Crofts's "Summer Breeze".  Once you get over the shock of Type O covering a Seals & Crofts song, you realize what a damn good job they do of making the song into one of their own.  Turning such a sunny, light-hearted song into a fantasticly dark and sludgy goth-rock song is not an easy task, but Type O executes it to near perfection.  And just when you start to think Type-O are a bunch of one-trick-pony's with the goth-rock thing, darkness quickly turns into light as "Summer Breeze" transitions to "Set Me On Fire" an incredibly breezy, guitar-pop song that recalls one of the band's main influences: The Beatles.  It's a beautiful song, and really shows how dynamic of a band Type really was.

After another skit that will make you never want to have sex again, the band launches into "We Hate Everyone" which at first sounds like a parody of punk-rock, then a guitar-tech session hijacked by satan, then a catchy as hell poppy 70s guitar driven section, then back to the punk-rock parody again.  What just happened there?  Type O just happened.  Another great song.

After you get through what I would consider to the worst song on the album, the droning title track, you're treated to the campiest skit of all "3.0.1.F" (which can send chills up your spine if you listen to it alone in the dark).  After that, the listener is treated to 2 more classic Type O songs "Too Late: Frozen" and "Blood and Fire", the latter a smooth number recalling some of the best elements of 70s guitar rock, and the prior being perhaps the most dymanic straight-forward hard-rock song on the album, with some beautiful melodies to boot, reminiscent of The Beatles.  Speaking of The Beatles, the last track on the album features a sitar and an enchanting mood to close out a stellar album.

Type O Negative really flexed their musical muscles here, showcasing a wide-range of influences and crafting a very original piece of material, effectively re-inventing themselves in the process.  Because this album is frequently pigeon-holed into the "goth-rock" category, it is often dismissed in critical circles due to it's perceived lack of accessibility or one-dimensionality as a result.  That is a shame, as there is a lot more going on here than just goth-rock (albeit that is the predominate theme).  This album is incredibly dymanic, and transcends the goth-rock genre as a whole because of it's ability to incorporate multiple influences and create something unique and original.  Their best album.


October Rust

Type O Negative


Being an avid fan of Bloody Kisses, I had very high expectations when October Rust came out, and unfortunately I was pretty disappointed with this album back in the day.  While I definitely enjoyed the more melodic aspects of Type O's sound, October Rust sounded too melodic, to the point it almost sounded contrived at times.  Peter Steele made no bones about the band going in a more accessible direction on October Rust, and although it's a stretch to call anything on here pop-rock, many of the songs sound too overly romantic (for lack of a better term) for their own good.  October Rust takes the genuine anguish, heartbreak, depth, and atmosphere found on Bloody Kisses, and attempts to remanufacture that into a more accessible format, but unfortunately it all too often comes across as corny or cliché (or worse...just plain uninteresting).  It's too lush, too meandering, too sedating for its own good at times, and lacks the ambition, depth, and gravitas of its predecessor.  Haven said that, there are plenty of good songs to be found here (and a couple of great ones), but unfortunately practically none of them (with a couple of exceptions) hold a candle to most of the songs from Bloody Kisses.  Simply put, this is a watered down, safer version of Bloody Kisses.  No doubt catchy and enchanting at times, but it just doesn't sound as pure or engaging as it did on the aforementioned album.  So while it has its moments, and achieves its goal of being more accessible, it just doesn't measure up to the epicness of its predecessor.


World Coming Down

Type O Negative


I can't decide if this or "Dead Again" is my least favorite Type O album.  Most of WCD is a draining, depressing, drab listening experience.  If you're familiar with the band, and not a fan, that may strike you as an ironic statement, but aside from the "Medley" on Side B, "White Slavery", and the fantastic "Pyretta Blaze" there's not really much to get excited about on this album.  "Creepy Green Light" is OK, and "All Hallows Eve" is decent, but WCD suffers from a lack of consistency and greatness that made their prior albums so good.  Sure, "October Rust" was a little too overly romantic and poppy sounding, but OR had some undeniably great songs littered here and there.  WCD sounds like a funeral, it sounds like the title track from "Bloody Kisses" being played over and over again...take WCD's 2 singles for example "Everyone I Love Is Dead" and "Everything Dies"...those songs are definitely as generic, boring, and depressing as they sound on paper.  Peter Steele was apparently battling some drug problems at the time, hence most of the subject matter deals with addiction and personal loss, but it's not delivered with any sense of atmosphere, camp, or most importantly melody that made their prior albums so good.  There's very little enchanting grace in the music to be found here.  Steele just sounds like a strung-out depressed 40 year old and the rest of the band sounds uninspired, like they're just going through the motions, which makes WCD a downer to listen to and pretty disappointing as a result.


Life Is Killing Me

Type O Negative


If I had to pick one album that best encapsulated the essence of Type O Negative, Life Is Killing Me would have to be the one.  Although it lacks some of the atmosphere, epicness, and gravitas of their masterpeice Bloody Kisses, overall it's hard to argue that Life Is Killing Me wasn't the band's most well-rounded album, showcasing virtually all aspects of their unique sound.  And it's not just a "showcase" persay, as the band seemed intent on delivering a high-quality product for their fans as opposed to just going through the motions (like on World Coming Down).  There's honestly not one bad song on the entire album, which couldn't be said for their prior two efforts (and hell, I always skip the dreadful title track from Bloody Kisses personally).  For this reviewer, this was the first and only Type O album without any filler material, which is even more commendable considering the variety to be found on Life Is Killing Me.  There's thrash, sludge, Beatlesque pop, a nice instrumental piece, and some funny songs as well.  It's nice to see the band's trademark sense of humor return on this album (something that was sorely missing from World Coming Down).  Type O really wears their Beatles and classic rock influences on their sleeves here, and that certainly contributes to a fantastic set of songs.  This album sounds less like a dreadful funeral (World Coming Down) and more like an old-school hard rock record (albeit with certain gothic tendencies).  It's, dare I say "upbeat and fun" at times?  But the best parts of the album are when the band creates a meloncholly and trascendent vibe with their music that only Type O Negative could pull off (i.e. "Less Than Zero", "Todd's Ship Gods", and (We Were) Electrocute").  The album is a consistently engaging and soothing listening experience, and captures the band arguably in their prime.  Overall, although it's less ambitious and somewhat more formulaic than Bloody Kisses, it wins points for a consistently stellar set of songs.  Life Is Killing Me captures the band honing all of their quirks and influences into a unified sound, a brilliant sound that best encapsulates what a great band Type O Negative was.


Dead Again

Type O Negative


In the competition for my least favorite Type O album, this one differs from WCD in that instead of being bland and boring, it's actually pretty eccentric and reckless at times.  It's actually all over the map really.  The band harkens back to the industrial-punk-metal of Slow Deep and Hard at times on this album, but unfortunately it comes off as sounding too forced and goofy most of the time to actually be taken seriously.  On the flip side, there are definitely one too many 8+ minute songs, and none of them are particularly worth listening to unfortunately.  And then you have 2-3 songs that are somewhere in between, and not bad I suppose, but overall you're left with a really weird and unsatisfying Type O Negative record.  It's either being too reckless/fast/campy, too boring, or too...not great?  Frustrating that this turned out to be Type O's swan song...oh well...


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