Let’s continue the reviews of gothic metal reeditions! This new release of Type O Negative’s last album isn’t as good as Lacuna Coil’s new version of Comalies, and probably has less noble reasons to exist, but I still found it enjoyable.
This new version doesn’t sound that different from its original. Maybe the production is a little clearer and the music is easier to hear, but other than that, the songs are the same, the only new thing being the bonus tracks, a bunch of live performances of Type O’s hits from previous albums. Well, at first I thought this was a new version with another singer. But now, that’s still Peter, and in both versions, he sounds tired. Do we really need a new release of songs he made during the last years of his life, when he was at his lowest? Isn’t this album an example of the Dead Artists Worship thing, where you can release anything made by an artist who died tragically and people will buy it because of the link to the tragic dead celebrity? And thanks for the bonus tracks, but did we really need 2 live versions of “Christian Woman”?
But those are just my little reservations about this album. I guess they’ll make some of you avoid this album, but I must confess my weakness and admit I kind of enjoyed it. I guess I just enjoy hearing more of Peter Steele’s gravelly voice, angst and dark humor, and more of Type O Negative’s unique blend of goth rock, thrash metal, punk and doom metal. This unique mix is showcased in the thrashy intro of “Dead Again” and the fast angry monster “Tripping a Blind Man”. In the latter, Peter sounds more like himself, with his deep rasp and choppy, thrash/punk delivery. He returns to the Type O Negative sound we know and love with the slow and doom metal-to-goth-rock “The Profit of Doom”, where he begins yelling “Goodbye cruel world!” before reciting an incantation in a raspy voice, alternated with his trademark deep gasps, low-pitched singing and slightly higher, more melodic vocals and repetitions of “My soul’s on fire!”.
This one is the most typical example of Type O’s sound, but we get more of their obsessions and songwriting tics in the next two tracks, “September Sun” and “Halloween in Heaven”. “September Sun” alternates between a ballad and heavy dark riff that we call gothic metal because they sound like a heavier version of gothic rock riffs. It showcases their sense of melancholy and love of autumn references. “Halloween in Heaven” sounds like more upbeat but still quirky gothic thrash metal, with pretty good guest vocals from Tara Vanflower.
It’s a rather fun track, among the long and melancholic ones that follow. “Some Stupid Tomorrow” is also short, but very heavy, with a gloomy intro and fast thrashy verses. “An Ode to Locksmiths” is also faster, but still has a sort of gothic melancholy, and some interesting interpretations of the forbidden fruit and tree of knowledge myths. “These Three Things” is slow, uneasy and dark, with the usual low-pitched vocals. “She Burned me Down” is somewhat heavier and more energetic, while keeping a sense of anguish. Finally, “Farewell to Britain” ends Type O Negative’s career with heavier gothic rock and an angry goodbye.
But we really end with the bonus tracks. They’re a pretty good overview of their whole career, including their earlier thrashy numbers like “Kill You Tonight” to their later goth hits like “Love You to Death” and “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend”, “Everything Dies” from the often overlooked World Coming Down, and tracks from my favorite album of theirs Bloody Kisses, like “Christian Woman” (the best of the two live versions is the one that begins with a Black Sabbath cover) and “Black No. One”, the anthem of all goth/metal girls around the world.
This functions as a great conclusion to the career of a one-of-a-kind band. You get highlights from all phases of their career, and their ten last songs, which also combines all their different influences and all the usual elements of their songs perfectly. In many ways, you can feel these were Peter Steele’s last recordings. There is a feeling of desperation and exhaustion to them. Sometimes the creativity feels a little lacking, but some good ideas still shine brightly.
It’s a little too repetitive to be their best album, and of course, there is the whole Dead Artists Worship thing, but like I said, I need to hear more of Peter Steele. He truly was a character, with his own sense of songwriting and a great voice, maybe a rough and unpolished one, but a distinctive tone and a very creative use of it. He was a presence in the metal scene that probably can never be replaced, just like no one has really tried to replicate his unique goth rock, doom metal and thrash metal formula. If the void left by his death can only be filled by more Type O reeditions, then you could do a lot worse than this album.
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