Review Summary: A lively record, despite the title
By 2003 Type O Negative were quite a well-known band and the seeds of metal-polished gothic rock they’ve planted had already flourished into some listenable (and some barely tolerable) acts. The Drab Four themselves have taken a break from studio work, touring with their 1999 record “World Coming Down”, releasing a “Least Worst Of” compilation and consuming funny substances that had nasty side-effects. But, having bills to pay and a contract with “good old” Roadrunner, the band finally dragged themselves into the studio and created “Life Is Killing Me”.
The first thing that captures listener’s attention is that the sound has no drastic changes compared to “World Coming Down”, it’s just slightly greasier. Sonically, “LiKM” is a direct heir of the 1999 opus and that’s a minor flaw because before that (as well as after) every new record Type O put out was a significant step in the evolution of their trademark sound. Sure, the material is different – although that doesn’t become apparent immediately as the album starts with a cover of “The Munsters” TV show theme which could fit somewhere on “WCD”. But as soon as track 2 starts, parallels with the previous record vanish: “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” is an almost old-school gothic rocker in a metal wrapping. It’s fast-paced, energetic, simple and catchy as hell. And the song sets the atmosphere to this record perfectly: it's way less depressing than "WCD". If “Thir13teen” can be considered a joke-intro, this is the real starter. Some parts of lyrics of this song now seem frightfully oracular, particularly the phrases “without warning – heart attack” and “never woke up, died alone”.
As the album goes on one may notice that although the songs are really good, Peter did a great job at creating and combining beautiful and heavy pieces together, the album itself is nothing spectacular or ground-breaking. It doesn’t make you want to become a sexually obscene vampire and live an abandoned church (as did “Bloody Kisses”) or to wander out to the woods with you loved one (as did “October Rust”) or to just kill yourself (as did “World Coming Down”). It’s a solid, mastered creation that perfectly knows is direction and that direction is the Type O fan-base, which had at that point become quite a crowd. It’s not a runner-up for “The 1639 albums you have to hear before you die” and is perfectly aware of that. That’s why it leaves you satisfied but still recalling that previous Type O Negative albums have left a bigger impression.
But the quintessential Type O tracks (the title track, “How Could She”, “…A Dish Best Served Coldly”, “Less Then Zero” and a few others) are in no way bad songs. They’re atmospheric, gloomy and hard-rocking (especially that wonderful cowbell-accompanied part from “…A Dish…” or the Sabbath-esque fragment in the middle of “How Could She”). The title track is on of my personal favourites because the keyboard melody complements the intro riff so smooth and the chorus is just incredibly infectious. All these tracks have their moments of glory – it’s just you’d expect such a good job from Type O on such songs.
What does entertain with surprise though are a few more fast-paced tracks – the self-explanatory “I Like Goils” (a message from Peter to some certain men that craved for his magnificent body in a not-very-Platonic way) and a cover of “Angry Inch” from a musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (a heart-touching story of a botched sex reassignment surgery). These tracks serve nicely as energy bolts to keep your legs moving faster: something I’ve missed since “Bloody Kisses”. I also want to mention track 9, “Nettie” (a song, dedicated to Pete’s mother) which has some of the lowest notes Peter has ever sang.
Another surprise comes in a form of “(We Were) Electrocute”. The beginning of this song makes me think of Steele re-listening to all The Beatles’ albums since “Sgt. Pepper” and deciding to wrote a Beatles song himself. In a Peter Steele fashion. The adorably positive “na-na” and the orchestra-imitating keyboards add Beatlesque charm to the sound. A great and a shockingly light-hearted track.
Unfortunately, after that track the album starts to lose it’s grip on the listener. “IYDKMIGTHTKY (Gimme That)” is just OK. “Angry Inch”, as mentioned above, kicks some serious ass and wakes you up. “Anesthesia” is so heart-touching you could picture it on “WCD” (the keyboard in the beginning and the screams in the end are genuinely moving) but it’s track 13 already and you know there’s still some more dirge and doom ahead. “Drunk In Paris” is stylish, especially the use of an accordion sample, but nothing spectacular. “The Dream Is Dead” (that was also the working title for the album) kicks off with yet another Sabbath-esque riff (a common occurrence on “LiKM”) and goes on just like an OK Type O track, not making you regret hearing it but leaving no deep impression.
Overall, “Life Is Killing Me” is a good, firmly put album that has its punches and slips. It’s totally fan-oriented, and if you’re a Type O fan like myself you’ll probably find yourself returning to it or parts of it quite often. If you only know that band by their best hits – try it once and judge by yourself. Maybe you’ll pass out after a couple of tracks. Maybe you’ll might like some parts of it. Or maybe you’ll consider it the greatest album of all time. For you know, life is unpredictable. In fact, it’s killing me how unpredictable it is.