Remembering World Coming Down: The Fall of Type O Negative
Hi MetalSucks reader! Monday was the 16th anniversary of an album titled World Coming Down by that awesome ’90s metal band Type O Negative. My vibe is that World is the least-discussed Type O classic, but not the least loved. It’s modest, unsurprising, casually awesome. A magic trick delivered deadpan at dusk with no smoke and mirrors (well, not the figurative ones anyway). It was a turning point for Type O, the moment when doubt and dread started to win their war on frontman Peter Steele. I so worship it. Won’t you join me for a quick tour of a few of its landmarks and legends!
In ’90s loud music, self-awareness is scarce. But even Type O’s most soap operatic expressions of woe are accompanied by a near-surplus of humility. I tend to picture Peter shrugging in acknowledgment of the silliness of his own feelings. “Get a load of how upset I am in this song,” he seems to say with a smirk and eye roll. Of course he doesn’t demand that we respect his perspectives. By 1999, it was harder to do that as his proportions had grown so grand. In one beautiful, poppy doom metal song after another, his was a hopeless case, he was antagonizing fate, he had no allies, death had robbed him, his mistakes had sunk him. The end of the world. Cocaine.
From a small distance, the structures of middle-era Type O songs don’t appear to vary wildly. Their production is in-house signature, their moods are habitual, their topics death and taxes. I guess this band invented a style of art and spent a career exploring its confines. Evolution awaited that of its members, expertise flowed from repetition. They got awesome at their special thing. A hundred more albums of this shit wouldn’t be enough for me.
Scene: At about sink height, a boy proudly displays a cassette of scary rock music to an adult member of his family. Scanning the song titles, this mom or sister or aunt wants to understand his interest in such wild, morbid art. So he explains that he can’t quite explain the appeal. With a smile, she encourages him but adds a caution: Don’t get too close to crazy people like these. But, he wonders, What if you’re one of them?
By the fourth song on World Coming Down, Peter has used a track each to eviscerate himself, his family, and his species. So at this point, fan and non-fan alike can guess who’s next up against the wall: Her. She. The woman who enslaves the willing, who treads on her admirer in his time of need, who serves as means and proxy for self-abuse. She never speaks so he grows deaf.
Autumn is the time for Type O Negative music. It’s the season in which our physical world tips its own mortality, warmth flees, green leaves shrink to browns. It’s still beautiful, really beautiful, as eye-filling as Spring, but with none of the promise and all of the dread of dormancy on the horizon. And World Coming Down is the first months of Type O Negative’s own Fall, a drop from the T-shirt temps of the album’s predecessor, October Rust. (That unhappy album seems like a beach party compared to World.) And again, we can agree that it’s Type O’s start of human-sized anger expressed in supernatural proportions, like Peter’s troubles are powerful as a nuke and only he has no chance of escaping its blast. It’s the end of thinking of his own relationships as toxic in only a figurative sense. It’s the first of the era in which a song like “Everything Dies” seems to sound a note of concession, but really states only resistance. Or denial. Thanks for reading! Happy Anniversary, Type O Negative’s World Coming Down!