Type O Negative – Life Is Killing Me

As far as Type O Negative goes, ‘World Coming Down’ will always be their pinnacle and pretty much nothing is going to top it.  I guess it makes sense that after that monolith to all the terrible things in Peter Steele’s life that they would make a relatively happy album in the form of ‘Life Is Killing Me’, which I assume is designed to retrieve all the brainless goth girls who got scared away by songs with messages and long words and things.  So Type O Negative did the natural thing: create a whole album of ‘Black No. 1’s to please the crowd.  It sucks that they made that choice, but fortunately they’re a band who’re talented enough on the songwriting front to make solid, catchy music that isn’t entirely irrelevant even in its most shallow moments.

The massive doom dirges of the previous work are gone in favor of fifteen smaller tracks (in both stature and size), and the tempo is no longer as universally plodding as that found on ‘World Coming Down’, actually moving up to a fairly brisk pace on punkier tracks like ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Me’, ‘I Like Goils’, or ‘Angry Inch’.  There is no equivalent to ‘White Slavery’ on here; this is practically a pop album by Type O Negative’s standards.  Actually, who am I kidding, this is a total pop album.  There’s nothing very abrasive or inaccessible about this music as long as someone can stomach a little guitar distortion and unsavory lyrical themes like transvestitism and revenge.  That doesn’t automatically make it a bad album.  It does, however, automatically make it less relevant than previous works.  It could be argued that ‘Life Is Killing Me’ is probably Type O Negative’s least consequential album from a musical and lyrical perspective, and I can’t say that I disagree.

The good, apart from the simple fun of the straightforward pop/rock songs: ‘Nettie’ and ‘Anesthesia’ are excellent downtempo tracks (the latter of which benefits from some incredible synth arrangement), and ‘(We Were) Electrocute’ has a pretty amazing nostalgic feel to it (despite how a friend described it as ‘insurance commercial music’).  ‘Drunk In Paris’ is fantastic and should have been extended into a full track, and closer ‘The Dream Is Dead’ is a great end to the album, with all of Type O Negative’s trademark elements intact.  The rest of the release… pretty eh.  Songs like ‘…A Dish Best Served Coldly’ and ‘How Could She?’ are fun while they’re on, but I feel no motivation to listen to them.  Maybe the lack of real substance to this album harms it more than I thought, because I really do only find myself drawn to the tracks with more lyrical depth than the others.

I understand that Peter Steele is a tortured soul and everything, but would it really have hurt to go a step further with this album?  The good songs are excellent, as they typically are when Type O Negative really tries, but overall the album is sort of tepid and doesn’t have the sense of unity of releases like ‘October Rust’.  I don’t regret picking this up, and it’s a fun listen from time to time, but it in no way manages to stand up to Type O Negative’s more relevant and exceptional works (which are many).  Chalk it up to a cocaine-fueled burst of cheerfulness from Steele, a man who’s at his best when laying in a gutter somewhere.

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~ by noktorn on May 9, 2008.

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