Hey, it could be worse
(Note: I am reviewing the unedited version of the album, which features ‘It’s Never Enough’ as track 4 and ‘Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity’ as its penultimate track, with the edited version swapping the latter for ‘Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 x 10⁻⁸ cm⁻³ gm⁻¹ sec⁻²’ and dropping the former altogether. As this means the unedited version has more new material, this is the one I recommend.)
This compilation released about a year after World Coming Down is a bit of an odd beast, as far as compilations go. At best this sort of release compiles rarities such as demos, b-sides and outtakes and if pulled off correctly can function as unique albums in their own right; while at worst they have nothing new on them at all and instead present material that has already been heard before on past albums. The Least Worst Of straddles a line between the two, as it mostly offers up alternate versions of past material, with a few rarer or exclusive tracks in the mix as well.
A significant chunk of this album’s running time is devoted to edited versions of songs we’ve heard before, that have either been released as b-sides or are unique to this album. All of them are shortened radio edits, and they all suffer from the same problems. While most of these songs still function, retaining some of the atmosphere and getting the same basic ideas across, they lose a lot of the larger-than-life quality the originals had as they do not flow nearly as well, with transitions from section to section feeling much more abrupt and sections being omitted entirely. The edit of ‘Black No. 1’ in particular is truly terrible and entirely skip-worthy – it doesn’t flow or listen like a complete song at all, sounding more like various sections of different songs stapled together with no rhyme or reason. There’s also the matter of the remix of their version of ‘Cinnamon Girl’, which changes the song for the much worse. The drum machine used previously sounds much more like a sampled electronic kit now, and the guitars and vocals sound similarly processed and electronic due to being slathered in effects. The guitars cut out abruptly at points, particularly for the verses, but otherwise the song remains structurally unchanged. It’s an interesting edit but I feel like removing the spacey, atmospheric sounds of the original album does nothing to help the song at all.
This album only really falls into the best of formula on two occasions. Both versions feature a track from Slow, Deep and Hard as their penultimate song, and while both of these are great, we’ve heard these before. In addition, songs almost always work better in the context of the album from which they came, and as such there’s no real reason to listen to these tracks as presented here; they are inferior due to the context they are in. The other is a ‘remix’ of the track ‘My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend’ – I guess it is a remix but it barely qualifies as it is very nearly the same song; the only alteration I can hear is that the beat during the first few seconds of the song is removed, leaving only the organ before the drums come in anyway followed by the guitars. It’s otherwise identical to the original and therefore totally pointless for the same reasons that the songs from the debut are.
There are however, a few songs that are of more interest. The main draw for me on this album is the three World Coming Down session outtakes, as that is in my eyes one the greatest metal albums ever released. The songs in question are ‘It’s Never Enough’, ’12 Black Rainbows’ and the closer ‘Stay Out of My Dreams’. All are great representations of that album’s sound, with dreary and ugly stretches of riffing being broken up by occasional moments of sheer beauty, sparse but effective keys contributing to these and uniformly hopeless and negative lyrics. ’12 Black Rainbows’ is a shorter, catchier number with an explosive chorus that could have been a single, while the other two are more expansive and progressive tracks, combining crushing doom metal riffs with more atmospheric sections and frequent changes of pace – particularly in the case of ‘It’s Never Enough’, which contains thrashy up-tempo sections that hearken back to the days of Slow, Deep and Hard.
Also of note are two alternate takes of covers from earlier in the band’s career. ‘Hey Pete (Peter’s Ego Trip Version)’ is their version of the popular song ‘Hey Joe’, originally from The Origin of the Feces but without the faux live noise present on that album. The lyrics have been re-written lyrics to fit the theme of revenge against an unfaithful girlfriend present on Slow, Deep and Hard and its aforementioned ‘live’ counterpart. It’s been turned from a laid back psychedelic rocker into a gloomy doom metal number, as is befitting of the new lyrics. ‘Black Sabbath (From the Satanic Perspective)’ meanwhile is their take on Black Sabbath’s classic (originally from Nativity in Black and later on reissues of Bloody Kisses), albeit with lyrics that show the other side of the story told by the original. The song is a great deal heavier and slower than the original, bordering on funeral doom speeds during the verses, and Ozzy’s agonised singing has been replaced by Pete’s bass-baritone crooning. Both of these are great examples of covers, having been translated and built upon properly to turn the originals into different beasts entirely, ones that sound so natural and distinctly Type O Negative that they both could have been written by the band.
A heavily discounted purchase is recommended when seeking this album out. It is an incredibly mixed bag, coming out only slightly positive when factoring in the amount of inferior edits and redundant inclusions present. The radio edits are all inferior to the originals though they’re mostly alright and not entirely disposable, but barring the two covers and the three new originals everything else here is skipworthy or redundant. This album is by no means essential as a whole and it certainly is not a good introduction to the band’s career, but it does have some merit.
For what it’s worth, I do appreciate the good humour needed to put absolute silence on a best of compilation; that alone is worthy of a chuckle.