Type O Negative 
Life Is Killing Me
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

Even as I grow older and increasingly bitter, I am always overtaken by a feeling of youthful excitement whenever Type O Negative release a new record.  For Life Is Killing Me, the Brooklyn quartet’s fifth studio release, my anticipation was no different than for their previous efforts.  I nodded with emphatic commiseration when I first heard the album’s title, muttering “Amen Peter.”

So I bought Life Is Killing Me a few days after its June 17th release.  And overall, the album is a logical successor to World Coming Down, perhaps spiced with a select few more bits of atmosphere and certainly a tad more anger.  While the buzz before the album’s release ranged dramatically – some sources reported that the album was their most aggressive since Slow Deep & Hard and other sources claimed that it was reminiscent of Bloody Kisses.  Not sure if any of those claims are really fair. Life Is Killing Me provides a very impressive balance between familiar elements that fans 
have come to expect from the band, and fresh reinterpretations and deliveries of those TON recognizable characteristics.   There are no drastic changes or dramatic surprises to be found on the album – which is a comfort considering how many bands seem to get such a kick lately out of making drastic changes to their sound, but it is definitely not outright rehashing earlier material.  Fans of Goth Metal can still count on Type O Negative to churn out quality misanthropic anthems and tongue in cheek ballads of bitterness.

Structurally speaking, Life Is Killing Me might be the bands most intricately arranged album.  There are a lot of changes in most of the songs; a wide spectrum of emotions and diverse influences can be heard in the music.  There are some great rhythmic shifts, and odd time signatures. However, not so much that the listening experience is disrupted or fragmented.  The band just manages to keep the listener on their toes, and the first time you listen to this album (which can only be happen once, so appreciate it) is like an exciting aural roller coaster ride.

Some of my favourite tracks, are predictably, the gloomier ones.  Most notable is the track “Nettie,” which appears about halfway through the album and presents a sepulchral vocal performance by Peter in the songs subdued intro, which crescendos into a tight crunchy torrent of dense rhythm and swirling atmosphere.  The song recalls tracks like “Wolf Moon” and the massive hit “Christian Woman.”  Josh’s keyboard playing puts a heavily melodic emphasis on “Anasthesia,” a longer track chalk full of dark guitar chords, ominous church organs, and haunting piano runs.  Peter’s vocals are smooth and lulling, but let out a couple killer screams throughout the songs climactic choruses.  The epic title track absolutely slays, providing both an unforgettable catchiness and a plethora of darker sentiments.  When the song breaks into its post chorus, Peter pleads with stark fury “Just let me die,” while a galloping Sabbath-esque groove (think “Sabatoge” era material like “Hole In The Sky”) charges along with gusto beneath his manic plea for release.  Quite intense, indeed.  “A Dish Best Served Coldly” also carries a weighty mood, with more dynamic changes from quieter passages of clean guitar and subtle harpsichord to jarring bursts of gargantuan sludge and pounding percussion.  “The Dream Is Dead” finds Peter lamenting another spiteful Valentine’s Day, lyrically recalling fan favourites such as “Love You To Death” and “Everyone I Love Is Dead.”  Even the brief mischievous instrumental “Drunk In Paris” succeeds in weaving a strong atmosphere of doom and gloom, with its ominous accordion passages reverberating between loose groove laden guitar crunches.

Tracks like the irresistibly catchy “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” are literally bursting with melodic hooks, both in the vocal melodies and guitar harmonies.  The song has the potential for radio and MTV success, but as far as I know, it hasn’t been getting much airplay.  This track, along with the expletive laden “I Like Goils” (where Peter retaliates against the unwanted advances of gay men – “A sexist pig, well maybe it’s true/I hate all men, including you!”) present a decidedly punk fueled sound, faster and whipping 
through the song’s verses and choruses in ways which do recall early material like “Kill You Tonight” and “We Hate Everyone.”  I suppose the plight of being so ridiculously handsome is beginning to take its toll on the poor guy.  “Angry Inch” is an amusing tribute to the musical “Hedwig & The Angry Inch” – including a surreal chorus that shouts, “six inches forward, five inches back,” lamenting a sex change operation that has gone horribly awry.  Peter does sound relatively pissed on a few of these tracks, but like most songs you never know where his real bitterness begins and his sick sense of humour ends.  More than likely, the two fuel one another.  But alas, many of these songs are a laugh riot.  I mean, who ever claimed that Type O Negative were ever THAT serious, barring a few obvious compositions?

There are some tracks that I personally haven’t really warmed too yet, primarily because the songs just seem a little long winded, and the band’s trippy Beatles influences are glaringly apparent in the quirky bounce of sitar and soft vocalled oohs and ahhs.  Lyrically, I got a big kick out of “How Could She?” – where Peter pays obsessive homage to various female television icons (everyone from Catwoman to Weezy Jefferson!) – but musically, the song didn’t do too much for me.  “(We Were) Electrocute” elicits a similar feeling where I can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek lyrics (poking fun at the 80s) but musically, the song is somewhat forgettable.

Overall, as a longtime fan of Type O Negative, I was predominantly pleased with this new album.  There are always songs that I have always personally enjoyed much more than others, and there are usually songs on their albums I just sort of skip over.  I can imagine less picky fans will be pleased as punch over this new album, for the band deliver an animated and truly inspired addition to their discography.  There are some great moments on this album, and I suppose it would be redundant of me to say that I highly recommend it.  I am sure their fans already have this disc programmed on repeat in their stereos.

Check the band out on tour this summer – beginning in late July, and supported by none other than Italy’s Lacuna Coil, one of the hottest and critically praised Goth Metal bands active today.  Should be a fantastic bill.  Check dates below.

Track List:
1.) Thir13teen
2.) I Don’t Wanna Be Me
3.) Less Than Zero (<0)
4.) Todd’s Ship Gods (Above All Things)
5.) I Like Goils
6.) …A Dish Best Served Coldly
7.) How Could She?
8.) Life Is Killing Me
9.) Nettie
10.) (We Were) Electrocute
11.) IYDKMIGTHTKY (Gimme That)
12.) Angry Inch
13.) Anesthesia
14.) Drunk In Paris
15.) The Dream Is Dead

Type O Negative is:
Peter Steele: bass, vocals
Kenny Hickey: guitar, background vocals
Josh Silver: keyboards
Johnny Kelly: drums

Type O Negative – Official Site:

Roadrunner Records:

US TOUR: with Lacuna Coil:
7.25.2003:  Worchester, MA - Palladium
7.26.2003:   New Haven, CT - Toad's Place
7.28.2003:   NYC, NY - Irving Plaza
7.30.2003:   Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
7.31.2003:   Cleveland, OH - The Odeon
8.01.2003:   Pittsburgh, PA - Metrpol
8.2.2003:     Detroit, MI - Harpo's
8.4.2003:     Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall
8.5.2003:     Cincinnati, OH - Bogarts
8.6.2003:     Chicago, IL - Metro
8.8.2003:     Grand Rapids, MI - Orbit Room
8.9.2003:      Milwaukee, WI - The Rave
8.10.2003:    Minneapolis, MN - Quest Club
8.12.2003:    Sauget, IL - Pop's
8.13.2003:    Kansas City - Beaumont
8.15.2003:    Denver, CO - Ogden Theater
8.16.2003:    Salt Lake City, UT -  DV8
8.17.2003:    Boise, ID - Big Easy
8.19.2003:    Seattle, WA - Showbox
8.20.2003:    Portland, OR - Roseland Theater
8.22.2003:    San Francisco, CA - Slim's
8.23.2003:    Anaheim, CA - House of Blues
8.24.2003:    Los Angeles, CA - House of Blues
8.25.2003:    Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre