“Slow, Deep and Hard,” released on June 3rd, 1991, via Roadracer Records, is TYPE O NEGATIVE’s debut album. If you don’t know them, they were a four-piece band formed in New York in the late ‘80s, whose genre was a well-balanced mixture of hardcore, thrash, and doom metal, with Gothic vibes that became stronger later in the band’s career (starting from their fourth full-length “October Rust,” released in 1996) but were nevertheless already present, especially in the use of the keyboards.
The album title itself summarizes the whole atmosphere: composed in a few hours while Peter Steele (the charismatic bass player and frontman of the band, who unfortunately passed away in 2010) was dealing with a relationship break up, “Slow, Deep and Hard” is, in my opinion, one of the most nihilistic and aggressive albums ever written.
A sense of utter discomfort is the guiding line throughout the seven tracks, both musically and lyrically: the iconic bass sound and the distinctive voiceprint of the singer that made TYPE O NEGATIVE a cult band leave their mark from the very first track. “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity” is a detailed description, divided in two different phases, of how a man feels like when he catches his girlfriend cheating on him. All trust is gone, life becomes unbearable, and “the only things that last forever are memories and sorrow.”
The drumming, provided by Sal Abruscato, is extremely various and colorful, going from punk to rock to doom style in a matter of seconds; the use of keyboards gives a hint of pathos to the middle part of the song, then the closing part goes back to the quite explicit chorus, where the singer states that “he knows…”
“Der Untermensch,” whose title clearly refers to the counterpart of Nietzsche’s philosophical concept called “übermensch,” is a weird yet well-balanced combination of hardcore and doomish features, where guitarist Kenny Hickey gives his best in terms of versatility and expressiveness. The song is a straightforward statement against those who live on social assistance, here described as a “socioparasite,” “subhuman scum,” and a “waste of life.”
The following song, “Xero Tolerance,” shows a strong punkish vibe mixed with more solemn and slow moments provided by keyboardist Josh Silver, who adds some kind of a psychedelic touch to the whole thing. The tune is divided in three different parts: the first one is about hate, anger, and rage, as something the narrator is obsessed with; in the second part the narrator sees himself as a killer ready to commit murder; the third part sounds more like a short instrumental outro. Its title is “Love You to Death,” like one of the songs the band wrote later on, which was published on their acclaimed album “October Rust.”
“Prelude to Agony” contains four different parts and works as a summary of the whole album in terms of sound and general atmosphere. Musically speaking, some classic doom influences are particularly clear in the second part, where the scathing verse “love is life, life is love, love is pain, pain is death” proves how effective Steele’s lyrical skills were. The third one, way more aggressive, is a quite explicit fantasy about raping his ex-girlfriend with a jackhammer, an utterly violent image that surely gives an idea of how hurt the frontman of the band was feeling at that time.
The following two tunes are both instrumentals: “Glass Walls of Limbo (Dance Mix)” is a 6-minute-long interlude made of tribal chants and sounds of heavy chains hitting the floor, where a feeling of estrangement takes over. “The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences” exists in 1 minute of plain silence; it’s nothing other than the typical TYPE O NEGATIVE sense of humor.
The closing song has a quite weird title, “Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 x 10⁻⁸ cm⁻³ gm⁻¹ sec⁻²,” which later became one of the most representative tracks in the band’s production, mainly because of its lyrics and iconic riff. Depression is the leading topic here, once again as something the narrator cannot get rid of and doesn’t really want to. It sounds like a downward spiral of rawness and aggression, with a hint of melancholy. The final verse, “suicide is self expression,” later became one of the better known statements that summarized the band’s weltanschauung.
Now, 30 years after its release date, “Slow, Deep and Hard” proves to still be a fresh and groundbreaking album. There won’t be another Peter Steele. We truly still miss the dry-witted giant, whose peculiar style and vocals are often emulated but never fully replaced by anyone.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity
- Der Untermensch
- Xero Tolerance
- Prelude to Agony
- Glass Walls of Limbo (Dance Mix)
- The Misinterpretation of Silence and its Disastrous Consequences
- Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 × 10−8 cm−3 gm−1 sec−2
Peter Steele – vocals, bass
Kenny Hickey – guitars
Josh Silver – keyboards
Sal Abruscato – drums