The years between 1999’s “World Coming Down” and 2003’s “Life Is Killing Me” held a few significant events for Type O Negative. Among these were several fall tours (always around Halloween), Bassist/Front-man Peter Steele’s worsening addiction to cocaine and alcohol, as well as the failing health of his mother following the death of his father. The release of a “greatest hits” album titled “The Least Worst of Type O Negative”. And last but not least, September 11, 2001. Though they never wrote any songs about the events of 9/11, it certainly affected several members of the Brooklyn band. In this last installment of my three-part article about the band, I will cover the last two studio releases, as well as the events behind them, and finally the untimely death of a one of a kind Front-man/songwriter, Peter Steele.
Life Is Killing Me (2003)
Admittedly, this was the only Type O album that didn’t grab me right off the bat when it was released, for reasons unknown, it took me years to dive into it. Now it is one of my favorites. The subject matter on this release is widely varied, especially compared to the almost totally bleak “World Coming Down” album. For starters, the cover song on this one is from an underground musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. The plot of the musical is that a young homosexual man from East Berlin, who wants to become a rockstar, has a botched sex change operation that leaves him with only an “Angry Inch” hence the song title. The song “I Like Goils” deals with the massive amounts of adoration Peter Steele received from homosexual men after posing nude for Playgirl magazine, not realizing that homosexual men made up the vast majority of their subscribers. The song “Todd’s Ship Gods” deals with the loss of Steele’s father, as well as admiration for him. The song takes its name from Todd’s Shipyard in Brooklyn, where Steele’s father was employed for most of his life. The title track of the album deals with Steele’s mother’s ailing health following the death of his father, and features scathing lyrics towards doctors, at one point calling them “overpaid meat magicians”. The track “Nettie” is also a heartfelt dedication to Steele’s mother and features the full range of his vocal capabilities, from guttural baritone in the intro to searing higher vocals in the chorus. The song “How Could She?” is a light-hearted salute to assorted television heroines, from Betty Rubble to Vampira and everything in between. All in all, this album is great, but featured very little in the way of the groundbreaking innovations to the band’s sound as each previous album had.
Dead Again (2007)
The years leading up to the release of 2008’s “Dead Again” are jam-packed with the kind of dramatics that are stuff of legend, and unfortunately were well covered by certain media outlets that made Peter Steele look like the maniac with a frail psyche that he had become at that point in time. For starters, Steele ended up serving time in New York City’s Riker’s Island penitentiary for assault. Apparently, prior to leaving for a lengthy tour, Steele had given his long-time girlfriend an engagement ring. Upon returning from tour, Steele had the ring returned to him by a friend of his girlfriend, along with a request to sever all contact with her. After tracking said girlfriend down, apparently Steele got drunk and coked out and waited outside of her apartment, seeing her come home with another man, he entered the apartment and beat the living shit out of the guy and pushed a heavy bookcase on top of him and then waited outside for the police to arrest him. While in court for the preliminary hearing, he heard the plaintiff’s (one of which was his ex-girlfriend) referred to as having the same last name. That’s right, they were married. Around this time Peter’s mother passed away as well. After serving his time for the assault charge, he continued to spiral downward into cocaine and alcohol addiction to the point of psychosis, causing his older sisters to have him committed to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital against his will, on Christmas Eve nonetheless. This event is detailed in the track “Tripping A Blind Man”. This period of the band saw Steele’s live performance to be shaky at best, due to imbibing several bottles of wine each night before and during the band’s live shows. The song “Dead Again” is an honest and angry song about the feelings one experiences during a relapse in sobriety. Something Peter would struggle with the rest of his life. Soundwise, the “Dead Again” album is a mix of the fury of Carnivore with a traditional Type O Negative sound as well. The ballad “September Sun” deals with the betrayal he felt from the “Ex-girlfriend” incident. The song “Halloween in Heaven” is a tribute to close friend Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, who had been murdered onstage earlier that year, as well as a tribute to other fallen rock heroes. Around the time of the release of “Dead Again” Peter Steele, a longtime atheist and author of such songs as “Jesus Hitler” and “Angry Neurotic Catholics” had returned to the catholic church, declaring his renewed faith in many ways, lyrically as well as having the Alpha and Omega symbols tattooed on his hands. In my opinion, the masterpiece of this release is the final track on the album, which is also the final track Steele and Type O Negative would give to us. “Hail and Farewell to Britain” is an epic track and features the now very cryptic chorus of “Hail and farewell to britain, hail and farewell to me…”
On April 14th, 2010, after an 8 month period of sobriety, and a tour that saw him back in fighting shape, Peter Steele died of an aortic aneurysm. Thankfully he left us with a gold mine of great music, But every April 14th I can’t help but find myself wishing i was pulling the shrink wrap off of a new Type O Negative album. We’ll never get another Peter Steele, he was a truly one of a kind artist and songwriter, even down to his bass tone, he was truly unique. All of these things made the band Type O Negative die with him, but man do I miss them.