Type O Negative Four Dicks From Brooklyn – The Early Years
As I previously wrote in my article "Ministry Al Jourgensen The First 15 Years", I was first introduced to this band via cassette in 1996 (I was blessed with cool uncles) by way of their album “October Rust” which had come out earlier that year. We will get to that album later, because this is the first installment of a multi-part article about this awesome band’s entire catalog. It would be impossible (if not irresponsible) to write an article about Type O Negative without at least a brief mention of bassist/Vocalist Peter Steele’s earlier work with the 80’s Thrash/crossover group Carnivore. Carnivore, quite simply put, is a band that never in a million years would get a record deal in today’s pussy-whipped politically correct musical and social landscape. Carnivore had song titles like “Jesus Hitler”, “God is Dead”, “Race War”, as well as the fun-for-whole-family track “Suck My Dick”. Some of Steele’s lyrics on these Carnivore albums, as well as the first Type O album, led to riots and bomb threats at shows throughout their first European tour. Many People branding Front man Peter Steele as a “Nazi” and a “Misogynist”. Fact of the matter is, Steele was merely pushing buttons for fun on the Carnivore releases, and let’s just say that said buttons were certainly pushed. I could write an entire other article about Carnivore, so without further adieu, let’s dig into the first of seven Type O Negative LP’s.
Slow, Deep, and Hard (1991)
This album was CLEARLY written as a byproduct of what certainly seems like one of the world’s worst breakups. I mean the first song is titled “Unsuccessfully coping with the natural beauty of infidelity” or as most Type O fans refer to it by its chorus tagline “I know you’re fucking someone else”. There’s nothing P.C. about this entire album, save for the 1:04 of pure silence on side 4 titled “the misinterpretation of silence and its disastrous consequences” as well as the eerie instrumental on the same side titled “Glass walls of limbo (dance mix)”. The whole “dance mix” bit, however, does give you a first glimpse of the sardonic and sarcastic humor that Type O Negative employed on every release hereafter, considering that “glass walls of limbo” is a crushingly slow, creepy, and doomed-out dirge of an instrumental (hardly dance-able). Every other track on the album seethes with rage and heartbreak aimed at whoever the person that broke Steele’s heart by apparently cheating on the guy. The lone exception being “Der Untermensch”, which takes aim at people that Peter Steele viewed as “sucking off the government tit” so to speak, and certainly doesn’t help with the Nazi or fascist allegations. Besides all the controversial lyrical content, which is easy enough to focus on, is a band with a sound like no one before or since. Type O Negative employ the dirge of Black Sabbath to a crushingly slow and heavy degree, all while mixing it with the speed and fury of 80’s New York City Hardcore, without anything sounding cut and pasted. You take that, and put Steele’s baritone croon and screaming vocals, and you have a unique sound that would only become more polished and melodic in the future, making them the most unique sounding rock band that I’ve ever heard. This album ends with the track “Gravitational Constant: G=6.67x10-8cm-3gm-1sec-2” which is basically Peter Steele singing about killing himself, cheery I know, however the end of this song showcases Steele’s incredible “clean” vocal ability amongst an album full of raging screams, in an almost absurd and contradictory uplifting outro. This is the vocal style that would be employed on the vast majority of future Type O Negative tracks, and probably didn’t hurt their future album sales either.
The Origin of the Feces (1992)
The tagline at the bottom of this album’s cover is “not live at Brighton Beach” as it was a studio recording of many songs off of the first LP with a few other songs added as well as “manufactured” crowd noise, the calling in of a bomb threat (no doubt a nod to the controversy they had experienced on their previous European tour). The album begins with the crowd chanting “You Suck!” repeatedly as the band is taking the “stage”, a tradition that was carried through at almost every Type O Negative live show thereafter. The original album cover was a close up shot of Steele spreading his ass cheeks to show his asshole, pretty gross, but completely hilarious. This cover has since become highly collectible, as it was quickly replaced with an alternate cover so they (the record label) could get it on shelves without brown paper wrapped around it. As I said before, most of the songs on this release are often paired down versions of songs off of the first LP. Apparently after touring these songs across North America and Europe, they had managed to cut off any “fat” they had perceived there to be on said songs, making them much more tight and concentrated in their delivery. The three added tracks are a crushingly slow and dirge-like cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” as well as another song called “Are you afraid?” which is more of an intro bit than a complete song, and finds Front man Steele again singing longingly about suicide. The other cover song is a clever version of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Hey Joe” only switched to “Hey Pete”, a fitting addition, considering all of the girlfriend killing fantasies spewed on the first LP. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here. I don’t think any band does covers so well, and making them truly their own, as Type O Negative do. There’s a great video on YouTube titled “Blood Moon” that a fan uploaded (thanks) that compiles all the covers they ever did, full length album-style. If you get the chance, check it out, and you’ll see what I mean. Throughout Peter Steele’s entire musical career up to this point, it’s notable that he lived in the basement of his family’s home in Brooklyn and was employed by the New York City Department of parks, a gig he considered the “best years of my life”. He had often said that if he could just make his music on the side and keep this gig until retirement he would have, often causing friction with band-mates Josh Silver (keyboards, Production) Kenny Hickey (Guitars), and mostly Sal Abruscato (Drums). Type O Negative’s Next release would ultimately force Steele to “Shit or get off the pot” so to speak. To be continued in part 2…