When Type O Negative titled their 1999 release World Coming Down, they really meant it. By this time, the band's frontman Peter Steele had suffered a number of hardships, some of which had been touched on through previous Type O releases, some of which had not. World Coming Down is a doomy, bleak metal masterpiece with an atmosphere not for those who want to put on something cheery and catchy to make them dance. Untimely death of loved ones, cocaine addiction, and the utter feeling of helplessness are just a few of the topics covered on World Coming Down.
Of course, no Type O Negative record can truly be a Type O Negative record without a slight dash of self-deprecating humor, and even this melancholy release has a little fun sometimes. World Coming Down's introductory track, the eleven-second "Skip It," consists of the all too familiar irritating CLANG that is made by a CD that, well, skips. Consider this a little joke, a token of appreciation from the guys in the band. Also, it's pretty much the only thing on this album that'll give you laughs, so enjoy it while you can. "Skip It" ends appropriately, with Type O guitarist Kenny Hickey shouting 'SUCK-A!' Gotta love the Drab Four.
The expressive "White Slavery," written about the gradual spiral into cocaine addiction, is one of the finest Type O Negative songs. The keyboard sound is truly mournful. "White Slavery" is pensive, twisted, painful, and clever, and the simple lines in the chorus like "I've lost my...self again / I've lost myself ag-a-a-a-ain / it's a nightmare" convey so much. "Everyone I Love Is Dead" is a bit more 'rough around the edges' musically, though despite the sludgy guitar riffs and hammering drums, it still manages to keep Type O's melodic sensibilities intact. As with the other songs on World Coming Down, the lyrics are very straightforward, dealing this time with multiple deaths in the Steele family and their effects on his psyche. I know of no other band that could deliver this type of agony in such in honest way.
Even among the truest of Type O Negative fans, World Coming Down is not an album known for its instant accessibility. The songs are heavy, and I don't mean 'heavy' in a traditional metallic sense: they're very thickly layered and heavy emotionally. Not something you can digest in one listen. Even those who do not feel they can relate may feel squeamish when faced with the despondent nature of it all. The sorrowful "Everything Dies," despite being the album's most popular song and one of the band's most well-known tracks in general, is no exception. It is complex, strangely aggressive and hollow, intricate and desperate in its melodies and structure. Multilayered guitars and downtuned bass personify the rhythms and set the tone, while Peter's lyrics do the rest of the work.
Well, I loved my aunt, but she died
And my uncle Lou, then he died...
"Pyretta Blaze" maintains a gloomy nature while incorporating the typical Type O Negative lyrical themes of love, lust, danger, and fire. It alternates in pace from sluggish to...well, bouncy. Its chorus is surely the catchiest one might find on World Coming Down, with fun vocals and an interesting groove. Then there's the slithering, menacing ways of the scratchy "All Hallows Eve," a song that'll incite a wild desire in you to run loose in the woods on Halloween night.
Closing out World Coming Down is an interesting cover, in which the band does a medley of Beatles songs: "Day Tripper/If I Needed Someone/She's So Heavy," to be exact. And don't laugh just yet. Type O Negative laces these songs with an unlikely gloom that sounds like it was meant to be there all along. Though they'd all love to convince us otherwise, this is a band with a strong grasp on harmony and musical arrangements. Peter's voice is what really shines here, and backing vox by keyboardist Josh Silver and guitarist Kenny Hickey help in creating that magical, sing-songy Beatles vibe.
Regardless of the fact that World Coming Down is an intricate, beautiful album, I feel that those who have not yet been exposed to Type O Negative's music shouldn't select it as the first album to look into. When it comes down to it, World Coming Down may scare potential fans away, while an album like Bloody Kisses or October Rust would be considerably easier to latch onto. Those releases are simpler, with breezier melodies and lyrics that aren't quite as consistently dark. Of course, nothing Type O Negative releases is going to be for the 'faint of heart', so to speak, but one could say that World Coming Down is the band showcasing the extremity of their gloom. Recommended for metal fans who favor the unique, and to those who've liked other Type O releases: be sure to prepare yourself accordingly for this one.
Bloody Kisses - Type O Negative
October Rust - Type O Negative
Life Is Killing Me - Type O Negative
Dead Again - Type O Negative