Classics From The Crypt: Type O Negative – World Coming Down

It’s not every day that a classic album comes around for a fancy vinyl reissue. In Classic From The Crypt, we highlight important releases soon to be made available again.

In this first installment, the band is Brooklyn’s TYPE O NEGATIVE and their 1999 release “World Coming Down”, getting the vinyl treatment for the very first time (aside from its inclusion in the very limited and pricey “None More Negative” box set).

The greatness of TYPE O was in part down to the playing and personalities of the four members (Peter Steel – vocals/ bass; Josh Silver – keyboards; Kenny Hickey – guitars; and Johnny Kelly (originally Sal Abruscato) – drums), but the music was always a reflection of the songwriting vision of Peter. When he sadly died of an aortic aneurysm in 2010 (it’s not easy being a big guy – Peter was a touch over 2m tall, but years of heavy living may have taken their toll too), it inevitably marked the end of TYPE O. It’s easy to be sad that the band’s existence was so suddenly cut short, but in a career spanning a little over two decades and six studio albums (not counting the joke “live” album “The Origin of the Feces”) they left a pretty fantastic legacy, with time doing nothing to dull its impact. If anything Peter’s sudden death only helped to preserve it.

Having entertained themselves with many a merry genre splicing in their first few years – from Hardcore to Goth to Doom to Thrash – by ‘96’s “October Rust” the band had largely settled into a more consistently gothic Doom Metal sound (and moved away from the more Hardcore elements of Peter’s prior band CARNIVORE); all gigantic tube-driven bass, soaring, effects-drenched guitars, processed drums and lush, haunting (and often knowingly kitsch) keyboards, all underpinning the unmistakable low pitch of Peter’s booming, resonating vocals. The scent of BLACK SABBATH is thick in the air, but the band was much more than the sum of their influences. On “World Coming Down” they go all-in on the dark and grand gothic motifs they were progressively spending more and more time with from one release to the next. A few years in and the world of TYPE O was firmly crafted as one of doomed love, death, torment, ghosts and witchcraft.

While death was a recurring lyrical theme – from “Bloody Kisses (A Death In The Family)” to “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)” to “Life Is Killing Me”, perhaps nowhere was this morbid fascination with life coming to an end more of an ever-present dark cloud, than on “World Coming Down”. In this landscape death appears forever on the horizon, whether it’s the inevitable spiral of drug abuse (“White Slavery”), mourning the loss of one family member after another (“Everyone I Love Is Dead”), or summoning the dead back to life (“All Hallows Eve”), not to mention the visceral interludes where various hospital emergencies are staged.

Dark times for sure. TYPE O however always carried themselves apart from easy categorization as po-faced doom-mongers, thanks to their refusal to take themselves too seriously. “World Coming Down” is several dark steps from the playfulness of “Bloody Kisses”, but the band still can’t resist book-ending the album with a CD skipping prank (I’m curious to hear how this will be handled on the vinyl reissue), and a jaunty, comically doomy BEATLES medley to wrap things up.

Moments of comedy though are not the only weapons the band had at their disposal to protect against depressive, goth stodginess. For one, Peter was a tremendously catchy songwriter (not for nothing was the band fond of archly referring to themselves as the drab four in a nudge, nudge, wink, wink BEATLES reference); as hauntingly gothic as the album is (with its gigantic, crawling, funerial Rock dirges), memorable Pop melodies abound. So while “World Coming Down” is sonically and emotionally heavy as anything else from the band, you’ll be hard-pressed not to tap your foot to the chorus of “Pyretta Blaze”, or hum along to the vocal melodies of “Everything Dies”.

From their debut onwards the band never missed an opportunity to deliver one or two epic classics; on “World Coming Down” the hypnotic dirge of “White Slavery”, the raging Rock sorrow of “Everone I Love Is Dead” with its great, descending melodic lines and funeral soundscapes, and the wonderfully epic, Halloween-Metal preposterousness of “Creepy Green Light” are just a few worthy mentions from an embarrassment of Goth Metal riches to be enjoyed.

The centerpiece and encapsulation of the whole record though is unquestionably the title track. Starting out as a huge crushing dirge, with Kenny’s signature processed-to-hell-and-back guitar intermittently piercing through the thick gloom, the track takes the listener on a haunting, gothic odyssey – carried by one of Peter’s most nakedly visceral vocal performances – before finally the buildup of pressure can’t be contained any longer and the track explodes into the final, epic “Yeah I know that my world is coming down, yeah I know I’m the one who brought it down” call and response between Peter and Kenny. It’s incredibly powerful stuff and one of the absolute peaks of the band’s tremendous catalogue.

TYPE O NEGATIVE was never some conceptually complex band to get your head around, but they were singularly quirky in a way that made them forever both an acquired taste, but equally – for those that dig the marriage of masculine Metal posturing, lush, textured, gothic seduction and tongue-in-cheek depressive misanthropy – a band that it is easy to love deeply.

World Coming Down” has been a part of my life for over 20 years now. If you’re only just discovering the album now, or you were already seduced long ago, don’t miss the chance to snap up a copy of this new vinyl edition before they all sell out. Everything dies… but sometimes the dead rise. By Tom Boatman

Available for pre-order now:

Run Out Groove
Rough Trade
Coretex Records

 

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