at Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway, June 24, 2003

The recent Type O Negative tour took the Brooklyn goth-rockers to Oslo in support of their sixth album (including a best of compilation, dubbed “The Least Worst Of” in typical Type O fashion), which is tellingly titled “Life Is Killing Me.” And —if we are to believe the critics — it showcases a return to form. Having seen them set the same venue on fire back in 1997, I was anxious to find out if they could still deliver the goods. Unfortunately, this time around their set was hampered by technical problems, and the sound remained pretty bad throughout the whole concert. It certainly didn’t do charismatic frontman Peter Steele’s vocals any favours, which is a shame since he normally commands the microphone with great authority.

After a rather scrappy and slow start, things started to pick up with the classic “Wolf Moon,” introduced by Steele — a self-proclaimed expert in the noble art of cunnilingus — as a song about the possible downside of going down on a woman during the time of her period. This could be a pretty messy affair, according to Steele, apparently happy to share his first-hand experiences with the crowd. So if you ever wanted to know what that particular sensation might be like, study the lyrics to the song closely. On the other hand, this could turn out much more information then you ever needed about Steele and his sexual preferences. All sane people should therefore concentrate on the melody and general atmosphere of the song, and simply let go of the lyrics …

Anyway, “Wolf Moon” ranks among Type O’s finest moments, and it really got the until-then very reserved crowd going. It was followed by a couple of other classics, mainly the brilliantly melodic “Love You To Death,” which is probably the song that got many people turned on to Type O to begin with. It’s from their 1996 breakthrough “October Rust,” by far the band’s most accessible album, and also the one that earned them a larger audience outside their already established cult following. But it would be both unfair and unwise to state that they don’t have quite a few other decent songs worth performing. “Everyone I Love Is Dead” is the fitting title to a classic taken from 1999s “World Coming Down,” an album that even by Type O’s standard relies almost excessively on the darker aspects of life. Not a cheerful listen in other words.

Type O Negative’s greatest limitation — apart from those posed by sound problems on this particular night in Oslo — is the relative sameness to much of their material. The songs simply sound too much alike, both on record and in a live setting. Besides, they’re becoming somewhat old news now as they’ve failed to develop their music by adding any new elements over the last 10 years or so. With each new album you pretty much know exactly what you’re gonna get, and it’s always risky to try to emulate past glories instead of coming up with something a bit different. Having said that, the band shows a great deal of humour and irony in their approach, and this is frankly what saves them from getting really sad. At least so far …

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