Friday, May 25, 2012

Type-O Negative: World Coming Down Review

Hi everyone! Like I said in my Wednesday post, today’s review will be on a music CD. I’ve been really looking forward to this, and I bet you are too. I also bet that you’re wondering what specific CD it is that I’m reviewing. So, let’s not waist anymore time. Here’s a review of Type-O Negative’s sleeper hit, World Coming Down.

(Quick heads up: I’ve put down links to the songs below for you to take a listen. If clicking on a song name doesn’t work, then it means I wasn’t able to find it. I’ll be doing this for every potential music review that I do, so you can judge the album for yourself if you didn’t like how I did things.)


Of all the albums to have been released by Gothic Metal sensation Type-O Negative, World Coming Down is perhaps their most depressing & darkest. After the success of Bloody Kisses and October Rust, as well as the subsequent tour for October Rust, writing had begun for the fourth album, and had the working titles of Prophets of Doom, as well as Aggroculture. During this writing however, there were deaths of many loved ones in lead singer Pete Steele’s family, most notable of which was his mother. Due to these deaths, Pete went and began to drink heavily to forget the pain he was feeling. The writing during this time also changed, from the usual songs about sex and romance, to the more darker subjects of death, suicide, drug addiction, and depression. Some of the songs on this album, such as All Hallows Eve & World Coming Down, were not of the usual tongue-in-cheek styling, but reflections of what Steele was feeling at the time. Writing continued until the album’s release on September 21, 1999, where it would chart at #39 on the Billboard Top 100, slightly higher that October Rust, which was placed at #42. World Coming Down would go down in Type-O Negative’s history as a album with mixed reactions among the band members, but that’s for later.

Skip It: Much like their previous album October Rust, World Coming Down starts out with a “joke” intro. In this case, Skip It is just 11 seconds of sounds that are meant to confuse the listener into thinking that their CD player is skipping (Cassette versions of the album have the sound of the tape being “eaten”). Ending this track is presumably Kenny Hickey, as he promptly yells out the word “Sucker!”. This is a funny track, but it’s the only funny track.

White Slavery: We start off World Coming Down with White Slavery, which is about dealing with cocaine addiction. Whether it was his own or one of the band members is never determined, but regardless, this fits with the dark vibes of this album. With lyrics like “I make a call/So far to fall/Restless craving/Inundating” and “The summer snow/But it's not cold/Once it's tested/Thus infected” it’s immediately apparent that the entire album will be filled with sinister music.

Sinus: Perhaps related to White Slavery, Sinus is one of three “soundscape” songs that possibly predict how one of the band members will die. In this case, someone will die because of Cocaine usage. There’s no lyrics to talk about, as the subject matter and feelings are conveyed entirely through the sounds. It starts out with men laughing in the background, then a razor blade cutting and scraping on some glass, then there’s some deep sniffing, some indistinctive whispering, a sound of increased heartbeating, and finally some of the most agonizing screaming ever heard on a metal album.

Sometimes a song doesn’t need to be conveyed through lyrics, and Sinus definitely conveys emotion without a single word being spoken. It should be noted that Pete Steele could not listen to the song once it was completed, as the sound of the increasing heartbeat felt highly realistic, and actually drove him to have an anxiety attack. When one of the most hardcore metal singers has an attack like this, you know a song has power.

Everyone I Love Is Dead: The fourth song on the album, Everyone I Love Is Dead is about trying to run & hide from death (death of loved ones in this case), then accepting the ultimate fact that you’ll die no matter you do. You can feel Pete Steele’s grief in this song, especially with lyrics like “The kiss of death/Lips of a thief”. Death has always managed to bring out the best in us, but sometimes it can bring out the worst in us. Somehow, the tragedy that occurred in Pete Steele’s life brought out the best & worst in him, and Everyone I Love Is Dead conveys that.

Who Will Save The Sane: Although it’s is still a morbid song, Who Will Save The Sane is also a strange song. For one thing, it’s about Steele’s run in with psychiatric treatment, which is always a bizarre subject for any song, regardless of the singer. Secondly, you hear Steele recite the number Pi about halfway through the song (if anyone who didn’t know, Pi is 3.141592653), which is even more bizarre. Third & final, although the lyrics are dark, the instrumentation of the song (and to a much lesser extent, the lyrics) somehow makes the whole thing sound slightly humorous.

Liver: The second of the “soundscape” songs, Liver is about one of the band members dying of alcohol abuse. Like Sinus, the emotions are conveyed entirely through the noises. We start out with a audience cheering, then we go to some footsteps running through gravel, a car door opening and closing, a man speaking indistictively, the car starting up and leaving, some footsteps walking on pavement, a door opening then closing, liquid being poured into glass as some bottles are heard clinking afterwards, patrons in the bar talking softly, a pistol being cocked then fired, some ambulance sirens, a defibulator whirring, a male paramedic yelling clear, then the pad shocks. This cycle repeats again, until the sound of a telephone ringing is heard, with a young woman speaking on the other end, and a man screaming in pain and/or terror. Just like Sinus, Liver conveys it’s dark energy entirely through the sounds, and leaves the listener shaking in despair.

World Coming Down: It wouldn’t be Type-O Negative without at least one song with the same name as the album (Their 1991, 1992, and 1996 albums were the only one to not have a song with the same name as the album). World Coming Down also happened to have been one of their longest songs to date at the time, as it player for 11 minutes and 10 seconds. It was eclipsed by Prelude to Agony off of 1991's Slow Deep & Hard (12 minutes and 15 seconds), and by These Three Things off of 2007's Dead Again (14 minutes and 21 seconds), but was still considered to be a relatively long song for it’s time. The time length is needed, as this is a highly epic song, filed with just as much sadness as it does illumination. I think when he did this song, he realized that running from death was useless, and he should party as hard as he could until the day he died. A very powerful song, and one that should be listened to in a quiet place.

Creepy Green Light: As you can tell so far, World Coming Down is a depressing album. So, it was a surprise to me when I first heard Creepy Green Light. Originally titled Spooky Green Light, Creepy Green Light is a song that starts our dark, and somehow winds up with a happy ending, while at the same time still keeping a dark tone. The story of this song is unique in that it’s sung from the 3rd person: a spell is cast on Halloween night at the grave of a loved one’s spouse, with the intent to bring the spouse back to life. The spell succeeds, and the spouse is brought back from the dead to be reunited with the one she loves. Given the nature of this album, you wouldn’t expect a song like this, as it remains relatively dark despite the ending. A good surprise, if you ask me.

Everything Dies: This was the song that, perhaps in my mind, really revealed the hell that Pete Steel was going through at the time. The message of Everything Dies is simple and easy: everything dies! It doesn’t matter if it’s people (in the case of this song), animals, ideas, or civilizations, sooner or later they will wither away a rot in the grave. There’s a section about halfway through the song where Pete Steele basically saying he wants someone close to help him out of his rut, but with noone around, he wishes that he died along with those that were dear to him. This is perhaps the saddest of all the songs on here, as any listener (including myself) as felt this way at some point in their life.

Lung: The final of the three “soundscape” songs, Lung is about how one of the band members will die of smoking. Like Sinus and Liver, the emotions are conveyed entirely through sounds. We hear a cigarette lighter go off, someone inhaling on the cigarette, a Phlegmy snort and cough, followed by labored breathing, a man coughing in the background, children playing outside and people talking, a heart monitor beeping in the background while a woman is weeping, the heart monitor flatlining, the woman sobbing, and a child singing “Three Little Speckled Frogs”. As with the last two “soundscape” songs, everything is conveyed through the noise.

Pyretta Blaze: An erotic yet disturbing song, Pyretta Blaze is about Pete Steele’s sexual fantasy with fire. This is a very sensual tune, with lyrics like “Beautiful yet dangerous/Thermogenic luminous/Like a moth drawn to a flame/I'm the same”, yet containing haunting lines like “Say the words I long to hear/Pinch bite kiss suck lick and sear/In a pyromantic way/I'm her slave/Living for her to ignite”. This song to me is always performing a balancing act, with occasional dips into the sexual side of the fence, then sometimes immediately bending over into the self obliteration side of things.

All Hallows Eve: Perhaps related to Creepy Green Light in some ways, All Hallows Eve is about Pete Steele making a pact with the devil, and in return the devil gives Pete a spell that can bring back a lost girlfriend. I think what makes this such a depressing yet powerful song, is that the listener at some point wishes that they had the power to bring back someone they’ve loved, and would go all in to do it. I was affected by this song a lot, as there were many family members I wished were still alive today. Such is the ways of fate.

Day Tripper (Medley): We conclude World Coming Down with this interesting little number. As you can tell by the name, this song is actually a mashup of 3 separate songs from the Beatles: Day Tripper, If I Needed Someone, and She’s So Heavy. Although the rest of the album is dark and depressing, this song has a whimsical quality, even if the instrumentation and way the song is sung doesn’t match. Day Tripper (Medley) is ordered in the following manner: Day Tripper, If I Needed Someone, back to Day Tripper, and concluded with She’s So Heavy. It’s an interesting way to conclude World Coming Down, and even manages to be a little peppy, albeit very slightly.

Overall Impression & Rating
This is definitely the darkest of Type-O Negative's albums, and it shows it through the song lyrics. I loved this album, and even I was a bit disturbed by the whole thing. There was even mixed reactions about the album among the band themselves: Josh Silver, keyboardist and producer for the band, though that the music of World Coming Down was very strong. Pete Steele, on the other hand, didn't really like the music on the album, as the songs were too connected to a uncomfortable period in his life. This translated into their tours for the album, as they rarely played any of the tracks, although they did play the entirety of the song World Coming Down during their tour for their last album, Dead Again.

World Coming Down gets a 5 out of 10. The album is filled with some strong and memorable music, but the overtly dark nature will turn off heavy metal fans that expect the usual dark humor that was in their earlier works.

* If you’re interested in the lyrics of World Coming Down, then look here:

* If you're also interesting in the background of World Coming Down, then look here:

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