Monday, April 21, 2014

Type-O Negative - Dead Again Review

Hey everybody!

Once again, we’re taking a look through the library of Type-O Negative during our revisit portion of the music review tour. Tragically, we’re examining the last release that the band even produced. It is an album that has cleared out a lot of Pete Steele’s inner demons, yet it still has enough of the anguish & pain that fans of the band are familiar with. With that said, let’s look at the final release of Type-O Negative, known simply as Dead Again.
2007 Original Release
2008 Special Edition Re-Release
The sad tragedy of Dead Again is that it wasn’t supposed to be Type-O Negative’s last album. Pete Steele was supposed to begin creating new songs in May of 2010. Unfortunately, he passed away one month before he was to start writing new lyrics. What you see & hear in this album is the final piece of material that the band made.

Despite this being the last album, there are three major things that rise above the tragedy. For starters, Pete had been off of drugs & alcohol for a while, making his mind more clear for the creation of music (He also made peace with his atheism, and became a Roman Catholic......go figure). Secondly, actual drumming was used on this album instead of a drum machine, which were played by Johnny Kelly (He was only “Credited” as the drummer on the previous 3 albums. The only other time where there was actual drum playing was on Bloody Kisses, their 3rd album). The last thing about Dead Again that rises above the tears is it’s placement on the Billboard 200. For the longest time, their albums were placed all over the charts, with their 3rd album being at number 166. Dead Again was placed at number 27, the highest position that their music has ever reached. 

Dead Again (“***”): I should say that the buildup in this song is intense!

For just over a minute (1 minutes & 17 seconds, to be specific), the guitars & drums are played very slowly, almost as if they were crawling through a marsh, and the muck was slowing them down. After they get out of the marsh, that’s when the speed picks up. After it reaches past the 1 minute & 17 seconds, Dead Again immediately gains an enormous boost in speed, with the drums & guitar being played more swiftly than during the buildup. Pete Steele’s singing in this tune is equally as fast as the instrumentation, but what makes his voice so great in Dead Again is that, like the instruments, they don’t skip a beat because of the pacing. A damn good start!

Tripping a Blind Man (“***”): Once again, we’re given some great buildup at the beginning of this song. The guitar & drums are just as slow as they were in Dead Again, only this time there’s a hint of a 60s vibe going on, thanks to a twang-like sound being used. What makes Tripping a Blind Man different is that it doesn’t go full-blown fast on the listener. Instead, you’re given more of a mix between slower & faster. The slow portion feel very methodical & planned out, but when it reaches the fast part, it becomes a little more random & chaotic, but never too chaotic that it trips up a lot. Loving this album so far!

The Profit of Doom (“***”): With a name like The Profit of Doom, you’d expect this to be a song about the proliferation of wealth during a time of crisis. Well, you’d be wrong. Instead, this song is a mix of two subjects: space & faith.

This is the first time in the album where you hear some of Pete Steele’s faith-based lyrics. You’d expect them to be incredibly preachy, but you’d be wrong once again. The lyrics actually fit the song quite well, and the complement the well-paced instrumentation. They’re never too holier-than-thou, but the choice of what was used has a surprising amount of impact to them. The space aspect of The Profit of Doom comes from a subject that we’ve covered once before a while back in my Rage review (Click “***”), and that would be the asteroid known simply as 99942 Apophis. Many of the other lyrical choices refer to this apocalyptical object from the beyond, and that it will possibly impact the Earth on Friday the 13th in April 2029. Coupled with yet again some great buildup at the beginning, and you have a deep yet still very metal song.  

September Sun (“***”): You wouldn’t expect to find a piano in a Type-O Negative album, but then again, Dead Again has been full or surprises so far. In fact, a lot of things about September Sun are surprising. Just take a look at this wikipedia excerpt:

Peter Steele dreamt about what would happen if he was haunted in bright sunshine, so he proposed the song titled "September Sun." He began writing this song featuring melancholy lyrics about the dead, doom, and sadness, beginning the first line of lyrics with the song title. The song and the lyrics give inspiration about being depressed without being dark, which gives way to hope and reminisce, like experiencing the first sunset after sorrow or bereavement.

With the way this song is structured in terms of lyrical choices, vocals, instrumentation, and beats, this is easily one of Type-O Negative’s most optimistic songs ever made. There’s a light & warmth that you really can’t find in any of their other albums (Though not necessarily in any of their other songs), but September Sun still has that signature heaviness that only Type-O Negative can provide.

Halloween in Heaven (“***”): In a turn from what we’ve been listening to so far on Dead Again, the song known as Halloween in Heaven harkens back to Pete Steele’s days in Carnivore, the band he made before Type-O Negative came along. You can tell that this song has more in common with the previously mention band than Type-O, simply because of the instrumentation. This has more of a punk-rock vibe than anything Type-O Negative did, although there’s still that band’s signature style at certain points. The singing is also more in line with Carnivore’s attitude & style than Type-O, but once again Type-O’s style shows up from time to time. A really great party song, and a fun tune in general.

These Three Things (“***”): The most epic song on the list, These Three Things is also the longest song on the album. Playing for 14 minutes and 21 seconds, it is a incredible experience. The tune feels very operatic in a sense: all of the instruments sound very sweeping, the singing is incredibly powerful, and as you’re listening to this, you feel as if you’re going on a journey. A spiritual journey, to be exact.

While The Profit of Doom definitely touched upon religion, These Three Things bring it out into the open. While some would argue that a heavy metal musician embracing faith would be bad (Dave Mustaine is a good example), I don’t think it’s bad in the case of Pete Steele. In fact, his newfound look on spirituality has given him new outlets for lyrics. The way he strung religious litany & imagery onto the band’s signature gothic metal style is nothing short of brilliant. If you listen to These Three Things and have some kind of divine experience, then I guess that it was meant to happen.

She Burned Me Down (“***”): For a man that embraced the light, a song like She Burned Me Down doesn’t reflect that. Instead, this feels like a song that would be more at home on World Coming Down than this album. The lyrical choices rely heavily on death, love, fire, and possibly suicide. With that said, She Burned Me Down isn’t a bad song. Pete Steele singing voice is very low throughout a majority of this tune, with only a moment or two where he raises his tone. The instrumentation is great as always, but it’s especially wonderful where it sounds like a military procession at one point. Another solid piece!

Some Stupid Tomorrow (“***”): At first I was gonna say that Some Stupid Tomorrow was a near-copy of the opening song on this album, but I ultimately decided not to. Sure, it has a slow & sludgy buildup at the beginning like the opening song did, and it becomes a more fast-paced song after the buildup just like in the beginning tune, but it’s the tone that changes things: whereas Dead Again felt & sounded a little more comedic, Some Stupid Tomorrow feels much more serious than the previously mention piece of music. This isn’t one of my big favorites off of this album, but I wouldn’t necessarily skip it once I got to it.

An Ode To Locksmiths (“No song available”): To me, An Ode To Locksmiths is like a 3-layer cake. The first layer is the beginning: It’s fast but not incredibly slow, and it sort of has a lighthearted quality to it. The second layer is the middle: the instrumentation & singing slow down to a more steady pace, and Pete Steele’s religious lyrics come forth for a last hurrah. The last layer is the end: the speed picks back up until it’s halfway between the previous two portions, and it takes on a slight humorous bent, but not like what was at the beginning. An Ode To Locksmiths is an interesting song, played & put together in a equally interesting manner.

Hail and Farewell to Britain (“***”): To conclude this offering from one of Brooklyn’s best, we have Hail and Farewell to Britain. This is a slow & sludgy song, with the guitars taking center stage (This is something that I haven’t heard in a song for some time, metal or otherwise). They have an incredibly steady quality to them in this song, and at one point twang as if they’re being played in a 60s/70s style. While they aren’t in the spotlight as much, the drumming really complements the strings that are being plucked, and continue the 60s/70s English rock vibe. A nice way to end a great album.

Overall Impression & Rating
It’s a damn shame that Dead Again is Type-O Negative’s final offering. The band is really giving it their all in this album: from the drumming, guitars, sound effects, to the singing, the production on this album is some of their best. Even if you aren’t a Type-O Negative fan, or a fan of Heavy Metal, then this may be a gateway into a realm of music you’ve never experienced before.

Dead Again gets a 9 out of 10.

See you all next time. Stay Otaku!

Sorry for the last post again.

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