written by Mike Cox
Heretic? Misogynist? The devil incarnate? Nah, just Peter Steele; death obsessed, self-loathing front man of the Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, N.Y.) based Goth rockers Type O Negative. Laugh at them. Go ahead. They actually enjoy it.
Formed in demise, and doom, the band is (in my opinion) solely responsible for starting the whole Goth/Metal genre. Argument is futile. Your fight will fall upon deaf ears. Accept this as the word of God himself.
Almost two decades deep, T.O.N. is still churning out some of the darkest, lyrically provocative music in the world. Evidence lays in the bands seventh studio release, 2007’s “Dead Again.”
Musically the band never saw themselves as, well “talented”. Steele and the others constantly used self-deprecating humor, to sort of justify what it was they were doing. What they never realized, was that no justification was needed. With guitars tuned so low, the hands of the dead could well reach from the bowels of hell to assist in playing, and lyrical content so politically incorrect were it not put in an artistic (theatrical and sarcastic none the less) light, it may well have endured constant protest. Fans adore them. Parents despise them. And with the release of “Dead Again”, I’ve never heard more life.
Musically the band has peaked. The line-up has been stable as an E.R. flat-line for sometime now. “Dead Again” the title track, begins with sludging guitars, and a ghostly choir, quickly ascending into a bass driven hardcore breakdown eventually keeping the tempo at a punk rock pace. All the while Steele harmonizes, melodic and soulful, never really needing to scream. With lines like “No excuse for drug abuse”, “Chemical enjoyment turning thee paranoid”, and my personal favorite “There are some things worse than death” his depression and anger come au natural. Shades of emotion that turn “Dead Again” into a heartfelt sentiment on drug addiction, coming off a stern warning. The joy of temptation leads to the evil of indulgence, and Steele’s own story seems to serve as one dark lesson.
Wallowing in the same shades of depravity comes “Tripping a Blind Man” the albums number two track. The combination of tracks one and two is T.O.N. at their best. Again fans are treated to a meat grinder style guitar intro that quickly morphs into a full speed self-serving tyrannical rant. The track breaks and changes several times, allowing Steele to experiment with every vocal range known to man. Addressing the condemned that serve to judge…taking the low road all the way “Want to play god, and I know you will, but if that’s the case I’ll be the devil.”
As for the album’s rotten core, it’s classic Bella Lugosi with modern mental depravities. “Profits of Doom” incorporates more of the horror movie style fans have come to know and love. Grandiose Goth Rock at it’s best. Picking up on a serious note, “These Three Things” is a ranting ode on the evils of abortion (obliviously this topic struck a chord somewhere in Steele) clocking in at 14 minutes and 21 seconds; it’s the albums longest track and possibly the most thought provoking. The track is confrontational on several levels, stemming possibly from Steele’s shocking spiritual conversion (he’s a devout Roman Catholic).
Winding through, we have the staple (and often misinterpreted as misogynistic) rants on the evils of women. A common theme in Steele’s writing, we find it toned down this time. “September Sun” and “She Burned Me Down” come closest, both slightly vindictive tales dealing with loss and infidelity (consider these my personal interpretations). Both tracks are done with a softer touch than say…”Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity” as heard on 1991’s “Slow Deep and Hard.”
Alas I find myself going track by track, and that’s not what I’m about. Take the time to soak this album in. Love it for all it does and doesn’t have to offer. Sit like me in a pool of self inflicted pain; agonize over love lost, wasted time and mental illness. Drink heavily and wear a heavier heart. Type O Negative is half empty, yet still full of anger, guilt, shame and sincerity. An appropriate choice considering toady is Friday the 13th of June 2007.