Archives For album review

I vaguely remember this record coming out in my senior year of high school. One of the entertainment magazines we got at home deemed it worthy of a couple sentences of review, not really saying whether it was good or bad. At the time, I was not yet into doom metal, and I had not yet learned to read anything printed in any news source with automatic distrust (hey, I was naive). My reaction was brief: “Oh, the guys who did that ‘Cinnamon Girl’ cover put out a new record. I didn’t know they were still around.”

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As I continued to explore the Type O Negative discography and deepen my fandom and appreciation for this band, I had a number of moments that filled my listening heart with joy and recognition, even if I was hearing the song for the first time. A moment that said “ah, now this is something only Type O Negative could do.”

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“A brilliant piece of work. I love it…I think it’s the darkest thing Type O has ever done…it’s blacker than black. None bleaker. The songs were really from the heart…I’m very proud of that volume of work.” – Josh Silver, discussing this album

The Type O Negative keyboardist is right of course, from a lyrical perspective. Yet World Coming Down’s reputation as a nonstop dirge of doom and gloom is a bit overstated.

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1996 was one of the weakest all-time years for rock and metal releases. Luckily, Peter Steele and Type O Negative did not get the memo. “Topics for the next album will include paganism, lycanthropy, nature worship, Promethean gifts, social Darwinism, totalitarianism, and global acquisition,” the band’s frontman promised in the buildup to October Rust’s release.

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“You know, there was a time when that picture would have been considered racy,” someone expressed their disapproval of this album cover to me. “Not anymore.”

The cover of 1993’s Bloody Kisses depicts two black-lipsticked women going cheek to cheek in a sickly shade of green. I’m sure Howard Stern at least got a kick out of it.

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It was a frigid, gray morning as I drove down a long, empty stretch of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Idle snowflakes fell down around my car as I settled into the home stretch of the drive to Boston. I needed some noise to power me through the last leg.

Looking down at the shotgun seat next to me, I caught sight of Lemmy Kilmister and his two bandmates standing in a desert landscape, bedecked in a combination of black leather and old West cowboy gear. Why not?

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The finest heavy metal record of 1979 opens with the song that many of us Motorheadbangers know as the ultimate live show closer: “Overkill.” A metal classic for the ages, the song “ends” three times, with that screaming, high-bending lead guitar, which is such a key part of its concert appeal. We fans are delightfully attuned to it, some of us having had the pleasure of hearing it for decades.

But imagine what it must have been like to first hear it in 1979: the most popular airplay was all about New Wave, punk rock, and The Wall. Then seemingly out of the black comes this Northern English trio with a wild Snaggletooth for a mascot, with a frontman who’s not quite singing but not quite growling either. Who could have imagined that, like the Snaggletooth charging out of the album cover, that this band would continue on for over 36 years, bulling over everything in its path, and serving as a respected inspiration by every genre from punk rock to death metal to thrash metal to alternative rock?

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It was fortunate indeed that prog metal fans like me didn’t have to wait another nine years for the next Fates Warning album.

Like the entire record, opening cut “From the Rooftops” has all the ingredients I admire most about Fates Warning’s approach to the subgenre. It starts out sounding like a Bond theme; I can even picture the curling smoke and opening credits. It morphs into tight interplay between the rhythmic chugging and drummer Bobby Jarzombek’s expert hi-hat work. Always a delight to listen to, always complimenting the other music, Jarzombek is the ultra-precise, unsung hero of Theories of Flight for me.

The song also has the melodic mid-range chorus by Ray Alder, and a trademark Frank Aresti guitar solo. It is the perfect, seven-minute middle ground between the more compressed, chorus-centric tracks on Theories of Flight (like “Seven Stars”) and the extended suites (like “The Ghosts of Home”).

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