The spellbinding story of Type O Negative, album by album
There is no denying that Peter Steele – who succumbed to a heart attack on April 14, 2010, at the age of 48 – was a unique presence in metal. Having come up through the Brooklyn hardcore scene and fronted one of the most hostile thrash bands of all time, the 6’6” raven-haired giant really made his name fronting the mighty Type O Negative, a band who never fit conveniently into any niche. With his rich baritone voice, pitch-black sense of humour and imposing yet welcoming presence, Pete practically bled charisma both on and off the stage. Like so many artists, he battled a lot of personal demons over the years, including cocaine and alcohol abuse and stints in both jail and a mental institution, but kept on bouncing back and by all accounts was looking ahead to what would have been Type O Negative’s eighth full-length at the time of his death.
We decided to celebrate the man by looking back at the band’s discography, which is uniformly high quality and packed with songs that are every bit as compelling today as they were when they were first released…
Slow, Deep And Hard (1991)
Type O Negative’s weighty debut shared some similarities with Peter’s previous band, the cheerily politically incorrect crossover thrashers Carnivore, showcasing bursts of hardcore in amongst the Sabbath-y riffs that dominated. Dappled with gothic flourishes – largely brought to life thanks to keyboardist Josh Silver’s contributions – this album laid out the initial groundwork for the band, and with two songs breaking the 12-minute mark took its time in doing so. The mastery of the record lies in the effortless manner in which the band blended their various influences, and you can almost hear the delicious pleasure in Peter’s voice as he winds his lyrics around his dirty basslines.
The Origin Of The Feces (1992)
The Origin Of The Feces is not what it appears to be, namely a live album. Mostly made up of tracks that made it onto their debut, though retitled and some rearranged, the band play to a crowd – Peter even going so far as to interact with them – that were never really there, the whole thing concocted in the studio in the tradition of records like Slayer’s Live Undead. It is also notable for featuring their first cover, Type O‑ifying classic tracks something that became habit on later records. Their take on Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe – retitled Hey Pete – pours on the distortion by the truckload while Peter’s retooled lyrics sets the track in the dark streets of early ’90s Brooklyn.
Bloody Kisses (1993)
Their third full-length in as many years, Bloody Kisses was the record that truly established Type O Negative, in the process giving Roadrunner Records their first-ever gold and platinum certified release. A far more refined offering than those which preceded it, the album pushed the gothic side of the band much more to the forefront, the band’s raw metallic side reined in a little more while losing none of the gritty humour. With Christian Woman and Black No.1 (Little Miss Scare-All), Type O also delivered songs that would remain staples in their live set for pretty much the remainder of their career, Peter having no problem in lampooning goth poseur culture with the latter track.
October Rust (1996)
Arguably Type O Negative’s finest release and certainly their most polished and refined, October Rust is easily one of the most darkly romantic metal records ever released, having built a towering monument upon the foundations laid by Bloody Kisses. With lush production and Josh adding layer upon layer of keyboards, it is a rich, atmospheric album that follows several tangents while completely eschewing the band’s earlier punk-isms, preferring to keep tempos slow and riffs thick. With songs like Love You To Death, Wolf Moon (Including Zoanthropic Paranoia) and Be My Druidess, Peter created shadowy love songs that no-one else could write, while playful single My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend sees him once more taking the piss.
World Coming Down (1999)
And then things got really dark. World Coming Down is an aptly titled collection of miserable music, a record born of strife and hopelessness. Featuring song titles such as Everything Dies and Everyone I Love Is Dead, it largely lacks the romantic warmth of its predecessor and reintroduces the old school, doomy metal of their earlier records. Broken up with brief interludes Sinus, Liver, and Lung, each of which alludes to a band member’s vice that could end up killing them, they did not all the way lose their dark sense of humour, but when Peter howls, ‘I know that my world is coming down’ on the title-track, you definitely believe him.
Life Is Killing Me (2003)
Having gotten low on its predecessor, the Drab Four didn’t go into 2003’s Life Is Killing Me in much better spirits, but it’s a more playful funeral march, and in places its recalls the richer sounds of October Rust. Kicking things off with the catchy hardcore of I Don’t Wanna Be Me definitely shows that the band still had it in them to thrash away with the best of them, but as usual it is the longer and slower songs that truly shine. Attacking the medical establishment that failed his dying mother on the title-track while penning a touching number dedicated to the lady herself with Nettie, Peter gets perhaps more direct and personal than ever before, speaking his mind and holding nothing back.
Dead Again (2007)
Dead Again is notable for featuring the recording debut of drummer Johnny Kelly, whose ‘contributions’ to the album’s predecessors were actually drum machines programmed by Peter and Josh. It also features a less polished sound, kicking off with the catchy, punky title-track before getting mostly long and slow in the way only they did. Perhaps the least remarkable collection of their storied career, it is still pure Type O through and through. Featuring some of their most monstrous riffs, particularly those which kick off The Profit Of Doom and the pure Iommi swagger of An Ode To Locksmiths, Peter’s lyrics seem largely resigned to getting older and the prospect of death, embracing them in both an almost amused, carefree manner and with a degree of grave sincerity.
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