Released: 2007, SPV
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
While the new Type O Negative CD may be titled DEAD AGAIN, the truth of the matter is, the band hasn’t been this alive in quite some time. After departing Roadrunner Records for SPV following 2003’s LIFE IS KILLING ME, the band has a new label behind this album. Furthermore, frontman Peter Steele has been re-energized after kicking a cocaine habit and spending some time in jail as a result. Now this is “The Drab Four,” after all, so there aren’t exactly songs about kittens and fields of flowers but DEAD AGAIN is a major improvement over the lackluster LIFE IS KILLING ME.
What Type O Negative seems to have done on DEAD AGAIN is openly acknowledge their musical influences while simultaneously summarizing their fifteen-plus year existence on one album, resulting in a top-notch effort that will reside among BLOODY KISSES and WORLD COMING DOWN as the band’s crown jewels. Kenny Hickey’s guitar is a major component of this batch of songs and while Josh Silver’s keyboards are still prominent, DEAD AGAIN is probably the most riff-based album Type O Negative has released since their debut, 1991’s SLOW, DEEP AND HARD. At the same time, the band’s trademark vocal melodies (the famed Bensonhoist Lesbian Choir) have never sounded smoother creating an immediate accessibility not unlike the direction taken on 1996’s OCTOBER RUST. Shades of the band’s—most notably Steele’s salad days in Carnivore—early hardcore/punk/crossover leanings are even present in places. Like Fear Factory and Deicide recently, jumping the good ship Roadrunner seems to have rekindled a creative spark in Type O Negative that was dwindling. Long-time fans of the band will find much to enjoy on DEAD AGAIN and a slew of new followers will hear exactly what made Type O Negative one of the finest metal bands of the past two decades.
Fast with a punk attitude, the darkly tongue-in-cheek lyrics of the title track (“I can’t believe I died last night/I’m fuckin’ dead again”) look at Peter Steele’s drug problems and explode with his quick delivery. Taking a similar tempo path, the untimely death of some of music’s biggest names is the subject of “Halloween In Heaven.” Lycia’s Tara Van Flower adds a welcome flair to the track with some soaring vocals that are an excellent companion to Steele’s basso profundo. For all the speed of these tracks, Type O Negative has become famous for painfully-slow, dirge-like song structures that build on the sinister ambience of Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost. “The Profits of Doom” and the anti-abortion stance taken on “These Three Things” are the guilty parties here. Like a heavy blanket of ominous, depressing gloom, this pair of tracks surpasses ten minutes each with Steele’s buzzing basslines, Kenny Hickey’s incisive riffs and Johnny Kelly’s hard-hitting drum style enrapturing the listener. Steele stretches his baritone vocals through gruff spoken word, an ultra-low croon, a piercing scream and finally mixing with Hickey for some infectiously melodic, almost Beatles-like vocal harmonies. Without leaving any stone unturned, the keyboard-heavy “September Sun” is among the band’s most immediately memorable tracks combing the Gothic turns of BLOODY KISSES with the accessibility of OCTOBER RUST. Dabbling in the psychedelic here and on “Tripping A Blind Man,” The Beatles’ REVOLVER-through-SGT. PEPPER influence on Type O Negative’s music is fully fleshed out through intricate, experimental song structures without ever forsaking melody. Taking a liberal swipe at Tony Iommi’s canon of riffs on “An Ode To Locksmith,” a killer groove drives the track before finally settling in with a riff similar to the little-heard Black Sabbath gem, “Evil Woman.” Even the slower-tempo of “Hail and Farewell To Britain” sees Josh Silver channeling the sound of Deep Purple’s Jon Lord in his keyboard arrangements.
No two Type O Negative albums have sounded alike and DEAD AGAIN is no exception. While comparisons can certainly be drawn and parallels established, this album is truly an original entity that is crucial at this stage in the band’s career. Many fans were left wondering where Type O Negative was headed with the misguided LIFE IS KILLING ME, especially after the brilliant but woefully gloomy WORLD COMING DOWN but rest assured DEAD AGAIN finds the band once again on the right track. Peter Steele has never sounded better, Kenny Hickey is given time to shine as one of metal’s most underappreciated guitarists and the production of keyboardist Josh Silver has stepped up the lush, multi-layered sound that has become synonymous with the band’s later work. Overall, DEAD AGAIN is among Type O Negative’s finest moments and with the riffs coming a mile-a-minute, the Gothic leanings have really been pushed to the backburner in favor of a more straight-forward, stripped-down approach. As the band members head into their forties, the energy and fun surrounding a Type O Negative album has made a welcome return. DEAD AGAIN? Hardly!
KILLER KUTS: “Dead Again,” “Tripping A Blind Man,” “The Profits of Doom,” “September Sun,” “Halloween In Heaven,” “These Three Things,” “An Ode To Locksmiths”