CD Review of Dead Again by Type O Negative

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Dead Again
starstarstarstarno star Label: Steamhammer
Released: 2007
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It’s been four years since Life Is Killing Me, the last Type O Negative record. Peter Steele, lead vocalist, bassist and main songwriter, has been through hell lately. He has done stints in rehab and jail and looks every bit his 45 years. But his art hasn’t suffered. Dead Again features that Type O sound which is sonically full, heavy as a really heavy thing, and full of his distinctive vocals which alternate between a Transylvanian cartoonish delivery and sound delivered from the very recesses of his soul as if every ounce of energy in his seven-foot frame is being drained by the process.

Type O Negative is a whole bunch of Black Sabbath, a touch of Bauhaus, a little bit of hardcore punk, some progressive ingredients and the Beatles. That’s right, the Beatles. The way in which Type O approaches their vocal harmonies are very Beatlesque. There is a section of “Profits of Doom” complete with sitar that is completely Fab Four drug phase. Near the end of “These Three Things,” Kenney Hickey gets off a couple of riffs mimicking the chorus of “Hey Jude.” Type O’s sound is big and beautifully ugly. Parts of the record remind me of earlier Metallica, full of changes and turns inside of individual tracks merged into an amped up Bob Rock-produced sound. There is a sonic intensity to their recordings, but this one really seems to be squeezing a lot into its 77 minutes.

Dead Again speeds things up a little more than the last couple of records in sections. “Halloween in Heaven” begins with a punk tempo and attitude before morphing into other shapes complete with vocals from Lycia’s Tara Vanflower. It almost sounds, dare I say, as if Steele is having a little fun with that track, even though the lyrics reference dead rock stars. Steele is also writing more about how fucked up life is, as opposed to just how fucked up he is. He offers an interesting opinion on abortion in “These Three Things.” This is an exhausting audio exercise in which the musicians squeeze everything out of themselves and their audience. I appreciated the energy and challenge.

Before concluding this review, I most note that I took one star off the rating because the promotional copy contained an audio watermark. That’s right -- every minute or so, I received the reminder that “This recording is the property of Type O Negative, Brooklyn, New York.”It didn’t matter if Steele was singing away or if Hickey was shredding, instead of their art, I got to hear, “This recording is the property of Type O Negative, Brooklyn, New York.” That is ridiculously annoying when trying to get into an album and distracting as all hell. What the fuck, am I going to burn a hundred copies and send them to my friends or something? It is an insult to those who review these records and a disservice to the band.

~R. David Smola