Type O Negative formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1989. Pioneers of the Gothic Metal genre, they released 7 albums up until Peter Steele’s untimely death in 2010.
Although I was aware of Type O Negative having seen the video for ‘Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All) on countless occasions, it was not until I saw them live at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival in 1996 that the band forced themselves into my steadily growing CD collection.
My, rather sketchy, memories of that day included a genuine Man Mountain on stage with a chain as a guitar strap. Peter Steel was a huge man who utterly dominated the 2nd stage at the festival. With a mere 30 minutes on stage, Type O Negative boasted of playing a grand total of 3 songs. Their set was enough to win me over.
Joining Bassist/Lead Vocalist Peter Steel in the band were, Ken Hickey on guitars/backing vocals, Josh Silver on Keyboads and backing vocals and original drummer Sal Abruscato. Type O Negative benefited from having a relatively stable line-up throughout their history, with only a change in drummer, with Johnny Kelly beating the skins following Abruscato’s departure.
Retrospective #5 features the incomparable Type O Negative.
Album Retrospective – Type O Negative.
In 1991, rising from the ashes of Carnivore, Type O Negative formed and quickly released their debut album via Roadrunner Records. Slow Deep and Hard was the, not-so-subtle, title of the album and merely hinted at the sound the band would cultivate and make their own.
This album was, and still is, a strange listen for me, as I had heard some of their later albums before this. I wasn’t expecting the lack of a gothic sound. This album takes a number of metal elements and crushes them together to create a sound that, to be perfectly blunt, would not have encouraged me to purchase future albums. However, luckily, Type O Negative were a band who continually evolved with each album. 6/10
This evolution, however, wasn’t immediately apparent, as the follow up album was a ‘live’ album featuring renamed tracks from their debut as well as a few other additional releases. When I say Live, I mean it wasn’t. 1992’s The Origin of the Feces was a studio album with additional crowd noise added and is billed as being ‘Not Live at Brighton Beach’. As it is a studio album, it makes it onto the retrospective.
Again, I bought this album prior to hearing the debut which has led me to have a sense of love for the album that Slow Deep and Hard wasn’t able to capture. Songs such as ‘I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else’, although featuring on the debut with a different name, seem to fit The Origin of the Feces in a more natural manner. The genius of this album was the inclusion of, what was to become a Type O Negative trait, of cover versions. An outstanding cover of Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ was accompanied by an alternative version of ‘Hey Joe’, entitled ‘Hey Peter’. Both covers are well worth your time. 7/10
By the summer of 1993, Type O Negative had finally managed to hit their stride, and it was their first truly gothic album, an album that defined a genre. Bloody Kisses is, without a shadow of doubt, a magnificent album. Featuring truly epic songs, including the aforementioned ‘Black No 1’ as well as ‘Set me on Fire’ and, perhaps my personal favourite, ‘Christian Woman’, it is not a short album. But it utterly envelopes you in its dark humour and I still, to this day, sing ‘Christian Woman’ in my head on a consistent basis, although Jesus Christ doesn’t really look like me at all.
Bloody Kisses was the first Type O Negative album I bought, and I utterly adore it. It contains my two favourite Type O songs and it has a special place in my heart. There is a reason why it became a platinum album and for many years I considered it to be a perfect album up until I saw them live for the first time at Donington Monsters of Rock in 1996. Needless to say, perfection was to be redefined. 9/10
3 days after blowing my mind at Donington 96, Type O Negative released October Rust, their first without original drummer Sal Abruscato . I bought this almost immediately. I had always considered their 3rd album to be perfection and this was the album to prove me wrong. I remember playing this constantly. Not long after, I went to University and this album was a constant on my very heavy metal Sony CD player. Again, the album demonstrates a dark humour in amongst the gothic metal overtones.
October Rust is one of the most consistent albums I have ever heard. There is absolutely zero weak songs, it is perfectly produced and it is, to my ears, pretty much flawless. I remember having one of my many drunken conversations with my best pal, Kenny, about this album, where I talked about how the best songs on Bloody Kisses were better than the tracks on October Rust, but the actual album was not as good as October Rust. Peter Steele and the boys had reached a high that, unfortunately, they would find impossible to hit again. 10/10
One of the biggest surprises in doing theses retrospectives is rediscovering albums that I had previously disregarded. 1999 saw the release of the bands darkest album to date, World Coming Down. Featuring tracks such as. ‘Everyone I love is Dead’, and, ‘Everything Dies’ you begin to get the state of mind the Peter Steele was in. At this time in my life, I had recently graduated from University and was wondering where life was going to take me. So, when this album came out, I never really gave it the chance the band deserved. Yes, I still played the album, but I never really listened to it, never listened to the more ‘upbeat’ tracks, ‘All Hallows Eve’ or ‘Pyretta Blaze’.
What has happened since I listened to this album for the retrospective, is that I now understand the content. It has hit a home run with me and I regret not listening to this more than I did in the last 20 years. Instead of being a weaker album than the previous 2, it is actually every bit as strong an album as Bloody Kisses. 9/10
Almost 4 years then passed before the band released album No.6, Life is Killing Me. Unfortunately, my retrospective listen to this album did not change my thoughts about it. When I bought this in 2003, I immediately to a dislike to it. For every good track like ‘I don’t Wanne be Me’, there was a ‘I Like Goils’. To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. Following on from my, now incorrect, opinion of the previous album, I felt that I had moved on from the band. If you have read my previous retrospectives, you will see that my music tastes were changing around this time and so, it was with very fond memories, that my heart said a fond goodbye to Type O Negative. 6/10
So, it is with a slight hint of disgust about myself that I must admit that I did not have a clue that Type O Negative released a 7th album until I started this retrospective. I had always assumed that they only had 6, this is how much I switched off to the band.
In 2007, their last album, this time with a new record label, SPV Steamhammer. Having listened to this for the first time after revisiting their previous 6 albums, I was eager to see if they could recapture lost glories, make me feel like man in his 20’s again. Alas, it was not to be. A new record label did not mean a new start and Dead Again, is an album that make you feel the guys were going through the motions. I was pretty disappointed, especially as there will never be a chance of a redeeming album. 5/10
On April 14th 2010, Peter Steele died. I remember being absolutely devastated at reading this news. Although latter day Type 0 Negative albums hadn’t hit home with me, their music was a massive part of my younger life.
Type O Negative were at the forefront of an entire genre, perhaps releasing the definitive Goth Metal album in Bloody Kisses. It is perhaps fitting that the remaining members of the band did not continue as Type O Negative as it leaves Peter Steele’s legacy intact.
- October Rust
- Bloody Kisses
- World Coming Down
- Origin of the Feces
- Life is Killing Me
- Slow Deep and Hard
- Dead Again
- Find out more – Check out their 2007 set Live at Wacken on You Tube.
- Off the beaten track – Check out the 10 Unforgettable Peter Steele Moments on You Tube, including his Jerry Springer appearance.