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returned to the sound that originally made them popular.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.