The new TYPE O NEGATIVE release was on my “to get in 2007” list pretty much from the get-go, so I’m very thankful that my kind bosses here at TMO decided to pass this copy on to me. Hooray!! Since their masterful 2003 release (“Life Is Killing Me”) a lot has happened in the TYPE O camp: the band switched labels, touring, the release of a live DVD (Symphony For The Devil”), Peter got arrested for drug use (as far as I understand), oh and apparently he died too… So what to expect from this new album then?
Well, utter heaviness for one thing. This may very well be the least accessible album from these New Yorkers, and in my book that is definitely NOT a bad thing. These songs are all some of the heaviest and most riff-based of the band’s career, with a sound that harkens way back to the first TYPE O album (“Slow, Hard, And Deep”) as well the Crossover-oriented CARNIVORE. So you see, there is really very little in the way of Goth here – if your world begins and ends with “Bloody Kisses”, then look elsewhere because TYPE O NEGATIVE 2K7 is a wildly different and much more feral beast! Yes, they still continue to channel the best parts of prime BLACK SABBATH and PINK FLOYD, with a dash of abrasive Crossover thrown in but overall these songs just rock harder than anything else they’ve put out in quite some time. But it takes a while to unfold…
At first very few of these songs will stand out and as such it will work better when taken in as a whole, but after a few listens the true inner beauty and ugliness (I mean that in a good way) of “Dead Again” will come to the fore. After about two weeks’ worth of listening I can confidently state that the thundering-yet-sensitive “An Ode To Locksmiths”, “September Sun” (featuring some of the band’s best keyboard passages and some of Peter’s most powerful vocal performances), the title track (I just love the little bass-intro here!), "Tripping A Blind Man", and the very Punky “Halloween In Heaven”, are all classics in the making!
On the whole these ten songs are long, epic and heavy slabs of Doom Rock with only the occasional keyboard melody or clean vocal line allowing some light to break through the dense fog of gloom hanging over proceedings. It’s not as if these songs are bad, it’s just that there are so many layers to them that they don’t reveal their inner beauty after one or two listens. No, these songs are heavy journeys full of progressive twists and turns, pretty much like IRON MAIDEN’s “A Matter Of Life And Death”.
Peter Steele sings (screams) with renewed vigor and passion, while Kenny Hickey provides biting riffs that will have fans of both Doom and Crossover rejoicing. Josh Silver’s keyboards are kept to a relative minimum, compared to previous albums like “October Rust”, but every line and passage that found its way onto the album is absolutely beautiful and only serves to heighten the sorrowful yet powerful atmosphere of the album. Johnny Kelly, well… he does an adequate job but nothing spectacular.
I’ve been an ardent fan of this band for a long time and I love all their albums, from the Goth/Doom swagger of “Bloody Kisses” to the depressively gloomy “World Coming Down” to the very upbeat and somewhat Punky “Life Is Killing Me”. “Dead Again” doesn’t really sound like anything this band has done in a long time and it will possibly alienate fans of their more ‘romantic’ side but I must say that this album is yet another triumph for the Drab Four. No, it’s not catchy and yes it will take repeated listens before these songs will begin to sink in, but it's all worth it.
This delightfully gloomy album (oxymoron ahoy!) will definitely end up somewhere in my year-end top 10. Notwithstanding the album title, these masters of Doom have never sounded more alive. TYPO O can do no wrong. Respect!!
(Online April 29, 2007)