The Shit List: The Ten Most Under-Appreciated Rock Albums Of The Modern Era (1980-Present) - #9 - Type O Negative "Life Is Killing Me!"

I've always been drawn to the darker, more fatalistic figures in rock & roll; Johnny Thunders, Bob Stinson, Stiv Bators, et al.  Thusly, with those guys dead, I was starved for something new right about the time I saw a copy of "Life Is Killing Me" in the local CD store.  Having successfully ignored all previous, Type O records in the past, there was just something about the title that appealed to me.  I bought hoping that it would be a dark, heavy, and depressing, but not take itself so seriously that we can't have a little fun on the way to the crematorium.

Needless to say, the album not only met, but surpassed my every expectation.  I had been afraid it might be too "knuckle-dragger" metal, but there was a real complexity to the arrangements and the songs themselves were catchy as hell to boot.  In fact, tracks like "I Don't Wanna Be Me", "Todd's Ship Gods" and the title cut are straight-up pop songs just waiting to be transformed into glistening pop hits by the likes of Katy Perry or Lady Gaga.  Hey, if Mariah can cover Def Leppard, why can't P!nk cover "I Like Goils"?

"(We Are) Electrocute", on the other hand, is an ominous anthem that marries psychedelic and shoegaze elements to Steele's ghoulish baritone, creating a song that only Type O Negative could ever do proper justice.

The album's secret weapon is keyboardist Josh Silver, who recorded and co-produced the album.  His production style is unique in that he takes an almost symphonic approach to fleshing out each song's arrangement, integrating subtle piano and orchestral flourishes as well as a plethora of different guitar tones and effects.  This is no mere mortal metal band, this is a four-headed Van Gogh, brushes attacking the canvas in a manner that is both savage and sensual, but 100% premeditated.  Everything you here is designed to be there, for this is the order that keeps everything else in its rightful place and prevents all-out calamity from breaking out.

(great Peter Steele interview from 2003, the year this record came out)

I guess the operative word is "restraint".  Even in their darkest, angriest moments, this is a band in complete control of their faculties.  They also understand that impact of understatement and what better way to slide a morbid thought under the door, so to speak, than in the form of a mid-tempo ballad like "...A Dish Best Served Coldly".

If you're looking for something to challenge your own comofrt zone, I heartilfy recommend this album but do admit that it isn't for everyone.  That, of course, only makes the alkbum more appealling to those of us who alternately curse and embrace this crazy thing called "life"

Sadly, singer/bassist/songwriter Peter Steele passed away in 2010 at the age of 48, killing the band in the process, yet Chad Kroeger and Nickelback continue to draw breath and make new records.

"Life is killing me", indeed.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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