Released: 2003, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
I was excited when I learned of Type O Negative’s upcoming album, but I never expected it to be this damned good! With a 4 year drought since their last full-length album, WORLD COMING DOWN, it is great to hear TYPE O NEGATIVE sounding as good, if not better than they ever have in the past.
A couple slight changes (and these being for the better) are evident right away. First, the length of the tracks is decreased, the longest clocking in at 7:35. Second, the band has mastered the blend of ultra-heavy doom riffs, melancholic goth atmosphere, and unusual experimentation in songwriting and musicianship. This album really stands out to me as the culmination of everything that was good on BLOODY KISSES, namely the heaviness and doom, with the wonderful atmosphere and melodies from OCTOBER RUST. Throw in ample helpings of Type O Negative’s taste for the grim tongue-in-cheek humour and affection for the melancholy, and you’re set for a fine album.
What Type O Negative album would be complete without an intro of some fasion. Instead of static and noise, “Thir13teen” goes right ahead with a few Sabbathy riffs before plugging into the almost popish “I Don’t Wanna Be Me.” This song is a fast one, and significantly more upbeat that Type O is used to delivering. I find that this one has a killer punked-up feel to it, with both Pete and Kenny putting some good chug behind the riffs and bass. The chorus is simple and repetetive, but hey, I’m digging it. “Less than Zero” starts off on a very bizarre note, with a trippy atmosphere, fuzzed-out vocals, and a sitar, much in the vein of a track by The Beatles. The second half picks up some sludge riffs, but still maintains the far-out atmosphere. What a strange song. “Todd’s Ship Gods (Above All Things)” is the best tune on the album. I absolutely love the juxtaposition of the heaviness of the riffs from Zakk Wylde’s school of heavy guitar combined with the soft vocalizations with the chorus. We’ve still got some of the trippy atmospher and fuzz-vocals from the last track, but I’m totally headbanging to this one. At about the 2:30 mark, Pete delivers some of the gloomiest vocals that he has ever put down.
“I Like Goils” (That’s Brooklyn-ese for “I Like Girls”) punks it up again for an ultra-fast track. What’s not to love about this one? The main riff is both heavy AND catchy, the chorus is certain to get you singing, and the keyboards are silly enough to set the fun atmosphere of the track. Oh, yeah, the lyrics are hillarious, about Pete Steele’s reaction to homosexual come-ons.
I could go on with a track-by-track review of the rest of the songs, but they’re all great. There’s quite a variety in the remaining ten songs, from “...A Dish Best Served Coldly,” “Nettie,” and “Life is Killing Me,” which take the BLOODY KISSES doom-and-gloom to heart, to more far-out tracks like “IYDKMIGTHTKY (Gimme That),” or “The Dream is Dead.”
Aw, hell. I’m having too much fun with this album to skip over some other hella-cool songs.
“(We Were) Electrocute” is a totally crazy song with some wild synth-horns and other effects, reminding me more than a bit of The Beatles again, this time “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.”
“Angry Inch” is another hillarious track, fast and reminiscent of “I Like Goils,” but this time, it is a cover from a musical titled HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. I’ll let you folks look up that reference, but I’m sure you’re perverse enough to figure it out.
“Anesthesia” is probably my second favourite tune on the disc. I don’t know how Pete and Co. managed to do it, but this is utterly brilliant. I think the synth/piano backing has a lot to do with the success of this song, along with Pete’s convincing vocal delivery.
LIFE IS KILLING ME has by far exceeded every expectation I had coming into the album. Here is an album that is musically diverse, yet consistent in quality throughout. Fans of Type O Negative will almost certainly love this one, and it would be a great introductory point for those new to the band. This one just keeps getting better with each listen, so don’t be surprised when it comes back to haunt my top 10 of 2003.