Release Date – Halloween, October 31st, 2000
It is a cool October night at midnight, and I have returned home and ascended my staircase to find a sinister, little package ominously waiting for me at my doorstep. Carefully unwrapping the plain brown paper, and opening it to find none other than Type O Negative‘s imminent latest collection, “The Least Worst Of” (Roadrunner Records) only filled me with that all too familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach. My mind tends to become overrun with memories, feelings that get dusted off, and revisited each time this band resurfaces with something new. Old haunting feelings that this very music lent itself to as the velvet backdrop, the soundtrack if you will, to many tortured years of my life. But sometimes, the painful feelings are welcome ones. Let me explain.
While a “greatest hits” collection may not necessarily be new to some, the mindset that the members of Type O Negative would have had to take on to actually choose the tracks that appeared on this release is new indeed. The men that Type O Negative consists of are four of the most self-deprecating, self-loathing, self-critical people one would ever encounter – at least when it comes to being judges of their own art. What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall observing the track selection process. How painful must that have been?
Peter Steele, the stunning lead vocalist and bassist for the band, (and co-producer of “The Least Worst Of”) would still have been working for the New York Parks Department, had he not been driven by some demonic force to become Peter Steele, as we now know him. Ask him what he is good at, and he would most likely respond with something dry, humorous, and point his own finger at his faults instead.
Kenny Hickey, guitarist and vocalist, would most likely laugh and take another sensual drag from his perpetually lit cigarette and reply with similar commentary. Johnny Kelly, Type O Negative’s incredibly charming drummer, would smile thoughtfully, and offer an equally well though out answer. Josh Silver? Well, I would say that the forever-somber keyboardist/co-producer would predictably shoot a knowing yet sarcastic glance and dismiss the question completely, and silently.
The 14 tracks, including 4 previously unavailable songs are the definitive songs chosen by the band members themselves that make up “The Least Worst Of”. Two songs from the recording sessions of “World Coming Down” entitled “Stay Out Of My Dreams” and “It’s Never Enough” emerge chilling, and exposing on this CD. The former being a self-effacing story of defeated efforts and helplessness regarding the looming death of his Mother, Peter is an exposed nerve giving the finger to God for putting her through so much pain. He simply cannot deal with loss, and finds ways to vent his anger through this medium in order to help him do that. Welcome to Type O Negative’s nightmare.
“12 Black Rainbows“, is another previously unreleased track that didn’t quite make it to “World Coming Down“, but certainly should have, in my opinion. It’s gorgeous, but well worth the wait, of course. The reappearance of “Hey Pete” Type O Negative’s studio version of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Hey Joe” without the live audience effects that appeared on “The Origin Of The Feces” is one of my all-time favorites. This song has a way of forcibly shoving those old feelings I mentioned earlier right back into my veins every single time I hear it.
The Negative-ized version of “Black Sabbath (From the Satanic Perspective)” that originally appeared on the “Nativity In Black” tribute is more than just a tribute to the Black Sabbath original; it is a masterpiece. Cover song or not, this is pure, uncut Negativity. The band even take us as far back as “Slow, Deep, and Hard” with the moaning, bitter, and brutal “Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty of Infidelity” – that deals with an unfortunately recurring topic within Peter’s lyrics (see “Hey Pete“). Of course, if you want to lighten things up a bit, you can always check out the stripper-version of “Cinnamon Girl” or “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend – Cheese Organ Mix“.
For the Type O Negative enthusiast, “The Least Worst Of” is an essential addition to the TON library. Being the diehard disciple that I am, I have been gnashing my teeth nightly in anticipation of this release. For newcomers, for fuck’s sake! What planet have you been living on?! Oh, wait, I’m sorry. Excuse me.
For the newcomers, this will be a “softer” introduction to the darkness that is Type O Negative. You can always begin with this CD, and cautiously work your way backwards. Just bring with you the required accoutrements. Those being, a few black candles, some good red wine, your favorite incense, and someone to share your journey with. You won’t want to do this alone. Oh, and be sure to have patience and save your first listen for after the sun goes down. This, my friends, is Type O Negative after all. The music this band creates is far too sexual to do it with the lights on.
This year, it’s definitely going to be a Negative Halloween.