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July 13, 2024

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Type O Negative
Life Is Killing Me (Roadrunner Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

The idea of a new Type O Negative album just doesn't excite me. And granted their music isn't about wild parties and Pop-laced teen anthems with break beats and break ups at the core. But they're consistent to a fault; you either get it or you don't. Interesting to hear Mr. Steele basically trash their last "World Coming Down" record, which I happened to think, was better than the tenuous and endless "October Rust." "Life Is Killing Me" is a definite threat to the popularity placement of its predecessors. The songs possess an immediate impact by striking quickly, owing to some jagged riffing and a catchy vibe, less dirge-like, more inviting and varietal. The name hasn't changed and neither has the theme, but one thing that stands apart from the get go is Steele lets it all hang out, initially apparent on the reckless close out of the balmy "Anesthesia." Sporting their first new material since '99s "WCD," early going tracks like "I Don't Wanna Be Me," an ominous to potent Doom/Gloom fest, the surprisingly uplifting "Life Is Killing Me," and to a lesser degree, the hauntingly familiar "The Dream Is Dead," noteworthy for its fluid double-bass work and dynamic lay it on in thick black band performance. Few go far in mixing their degree of melancholy with this tongue in cheek brand of self-deprecating humor and come away as remotely respectable, yet here's this mighty Cro-Magnon of a band, five full lengths in, formulaic at full force, loud, lewd, and at a loss to explain themselves, yet still they go. Musically more active and tuneful than really anything in their past including their breakout "Bloody Kisses" record, "Life Is Killing Me" lets yesterday's subtleties shine through, whether they include the unexpected, even out of place double-bass drum fills, a cleverly placed instrumental stroll, as with the sitar on the traditionally-minded "Less Than Zero," or a percussive/acoustic sensitivity marking a bittersweet cut like "--A Dish Better Served Coldly." And while "Life Is Killing Me" is instantly absorbable, requiring much less patience than most of their previous work, many fans may find the higher degree of sucrose a bit hard to swallow. There's an awful lot of '70s inspired Prog-Rock motion to enhance the glut of Gothic dreariness that truthfully raises the bar a notch -- a welcome addition to the usually buried needle effect that's long lay cold. And then the "carnivorous" side rears itself now and again for the aggressively methodical "I Like Goils," or their bombastic cover song from "Hedwig And The Angry Inch" musical, trimmed simply to "Angry Inch," and no laughing matter if you actually knew the subject matter! Blows away anything they'd tried up to this point, tripping clear back to the beginning that'll bowl 'em over live! There's some inescapable space filler interspersed here and there, mainly through the mid-section where they get caught up too often and too deep in the keyboarding fluff. Overall, "Life Is Killing Me" is a motivated work, if not less cynical than is their trademark, only now elevated by an ambitious presentation and playing that's apparent of a new found desire to break free from the rustiness of old for a fresher perspective led by a sharp delivery and sharper wit.
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