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'Dead Again' (SPV)

Review by Jeff Maki
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In 1994, rock music was formerly introduced to the goth metal doom of Type O Negative by their breakthrough album Bloody Kisses. The album spawned the single “Christian Woman” and the Halloween vampire anthem, “Black No. 1.” It was like nothing heard before, combining menacing doom metal with goth and pop-rock style—Black Sabbath meets the Beatles, if you will. To date, it has sold nearly a million copies in the United States. The band followed it with 1996's October Rust, a critically acclaimed goth metal epic, while 1999's World Coming Down and 2003's Life Is Killing Me saw the band somewhat going through the motions after their newfound success. Though they were strong efforts, both albums lacked fire or new ideas. Rumors circulated about the band's demise, and in 2005, their official web site depicted a tombstone marked Peter Steele. Now, we finally have the appropriately titled Dead Again on their new record label, SPV.

Perhaps recognizing their self-induced rut, the band has returned to the sound that originally made them popular. The material is most similar to Bloody Kisses, but with several songs containing a throwback Misfits sound, such as the opening title track and the punky anthem “Halloween in Heaven.” This rejuvenated aggression also can be compared to songs like “Kill All the White People” or “We Hate Everyone” from Bloody Kisses. Hints of their album Slow, Deep and Hard are here, as well. At several points, the imposing playgirl centerfold, Peter Steele, almost sounds like a young Glenn Danzig—which makes sense actually given that drummer Johnny Kelly and guitarist Kenny Hickey played with Glenn on the most recent Blackest of the Black tour and Type O Negative has a history of touring with Danzig. “Halloween in Heaven” also features guest vocals from Lycia's Tara VanFlower. The dark, flat humor that the band is famous for also flows throughout the release.

“Tripping a Blind Man” follows the opener and is a combination of hardcore punk, Beatles-style melodies and doom metal. The first single and standout song of the album is “Profits of Doom,” which clocks in at a whopping 10:47. I suppose the song is scaled back a bit for the single. Steele opens by shouting, “Goodbye cruel world!”, then proceeds into an evil rant, sounding like a profit. Then a chugging goth metal riff backs Steele's low, moaning—though all but lovable—voice. Most of the songs follow the same formula as Bloody Kisses, where each song had three parts and were essentially three different songs mixed into one. The almost 10-minute ballad “September Sun” is reminiscent of October Rust material, complete with organs and choral vocals. “These Three Kings” is almost 15 freakin' minutes long! Are you fuckin' kidding me? It is certainly done in true Type O fashion, but I found it to be the least inspiring track here. “Some Stupid Tomorrow” is a standout punk rocker, with a backing guitar riff during the chorus that reminds me of—of all bands—U2. The album closes with another multi-faced epic, “Hail and Farewell to Great Britain.” Like most Type O albums, Dead Again will take a few spins to digest.

Dead Again was a long time coming for Type O Negative. Though their dedicated fanbase accepted their recent offerings, there had to be a longing for a return to the band’s roots. The album has a downside, most significantly that it tails off and becomes somewhat drowsy after a superior opening. But the songs I pointed out above are the strongest they have recorded in years. Though it may not be a full-on return to form, Dead Again will prompt the most black hair dye no.1 and vampire wannabes since their early ‘90s albums. For new listeners, it will be a long, hard, uphill battle, as Type O Negative is an acquired taste. This album clearly was made for hardcore fans, even if the band states otherwise. Welcome back Type O Negative—it's been a long time coming.