Type O Negative - The Drab Four (1993-1999)
Bloody Kisses (1993)
This album saw a huge overhaul in the sound and approach to Type O Negative’s music, and became the most well-known release to date in the band’s catalog. For every fan they lost they more than likely gained ten. Bloody Kisses was the first release on Roadrunner records to achieve gold and platinum status as well up to that point. The year between this release and 1992’s “Origin of the Feces” found the band (specifically Steele) frequenting the booming gothic club scene in Manhattan’s alphabet city. Besides the main ingredients of Black Sabbath and the Beatles as influences, this album pulled influences from goth groups such as Sisters of Mercy, Lycia, and numerous others. Like most casual fans of Motorhead who only listen to “Ace of Spades”, this album has the 2 songs that most casual fans are all too happy to keep on repeat, “Black Number 1” and “Christian Woman”. The former song featured heavy rotation on early 90’s MTV staples such as Headbanger’s Ball, and Beavis and Butthead (a surprisingly effective tool for breaking bands in the 90’s). “Black Number 1” clocks in at over 10 minutes long and focuses lyrically on a self-absorbed ex-girlfriend, as well as many cliches of the gothic lifestyle. “Christian Woman” is also about three times as long as most singles of the day, and lyrically talks about a young girl’s erotic fantasies about Jesus. The only tracks on this album that remotely resemble the hardcore speed and fury of the first two releases, are “Kill All The White People” and “We Hate Everyone”. Both songs deal heavily with the criticism and accusations of fascism and racism the band faced on their first European tour, as well as heavily in the press up to this point. This release also has another unlikely yet great cover, by way of “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts. This album also features the only song by this band that I would deem as “cringe-worthy” in the track “Blood And Fire” do yourself a favor, and just skip this one (seriously). The very last track on the album “I Can’t Lose You” features sometimes guest instrumentalist Paul Bento on the sitar, giving it a very LSD-era Beatles sound, not to mention the outro chant of “everybody smokes pot”. All in all this album put Type O’s careers in the stratosphere, and saw them doing tours with Motley Crue, Pantera, and Nine Inch Nails, to name a few. This newfound success, along with a grueling tour schedule, would ultimately force Peter Steele out of his cushy gig with the NYC department of parks, and into the rockstar life he had always loathed in the past. Another notable event that took place around this time was front man Steele posing for Playgirl magazine (allegedly for publicity for the band) only to later find that the vast majority of that magazine’s subscribers were homosexual men. A sore subject that he would touch on, on a later album.
October Rust (1996)
World Coming Down (1999)
There’s nothing happy about this album, it’s pretty much death and darkness and addiction the whole way through. But as many of us know, great suffering can make for some equally great art. The first track, titled “Skip It”, was merely the sound of a cd skipping for a few seconds followed by Kenny yelling “SUCKA!”. Cassette versions had the sound of a tape being eaten followed by the same. The humor ends there though. The second track, titled “White Slavery” is about the downfalls of cocaine addiction. With lyrics like “The break of day, I rot away” and “with every breath, I pray for death” we can hear and feel the shame that Steele felt about his newly found addictions. There are three “audio collages” between the songs on this album, titled “Sinus”, “Liver”, and “Lung”. All three describing the death of someone from an addiction that would affect said organ. “Everyone I love is dead” and “Everything Dies” deal with the rapid loss of family members that Steele was facing, being the youngest member of a very large family. “Who will save the sane?” deals with psychiatric hospitalization, something that the front man was no stranger to, and would become more familiar with in the future. The title track of the album is easily the strongest, lyrically as well as musically. The lyrics deal with addiction and being one’s own worst enemy in a brutally honest fashion most people are not willing to utter out loud to the dearest of friends, much less on an album. This wouldn’t be a full-fledged Type O Negative album without the inclusion of an amazing cover song, and on this release, we get a medley of three great Beatles tunes, “Day Tripper”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. This medley, along with “Pyretta Blaze”, “All Hallow’s Eve”, and “Creepy Green Light” are the only songs on the record that don’t deal with heavy loss and addiction, and they are all a much-needed gasp of air in an otherwise brutally honest and negative album.
In the third and final installment of this article I’ll talk about the final two Type O releases (Life Is Killing Me and Dead Again) as well as more of Steele’s addiction issues and a trip to Riker’s Island g ward (psychiatric unit) and the untimely death of front man Peter Steele at the young age of 48. Stay tuned and as the drab four would say “Stay Negative”.