Type O Negative
Type O Negative was an American gothic metal band formed in Brooklyn, New York, in 1989 by Peter Steele (vocals, bass guitar), Kenny Hickey (guitar, co-vocals), Josh Silver (keyboards, backing vocals) and Sal Abruscato (drums, percussion), who Johnny Kelly later replaced.
Their lyrical emphasis on themes of romance, sadness, melancholy, religion and death resulted in the nickname “The Drab Four” (named after the Beatles’ “Fab Four” nickname).
Type O Negative has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Early years (1980-1991)
Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, the New York band Type O Negative has been writing its history on the global metal scene. However, its origin and formation can be traced back to previous years, with the band called Carnivore.
Formed in 1983 by Peter Steele in Brooklyn, New York, the band Carnivore had only a five-year career and two works released during this period. The first was released in 1985 with the same name as the band, and the second, titled Retaliation, in 1987. Despite its brief trajectory, Carnivore was a kind of “preparation” for the musical formation and personality of Type O Negative. For example, in these two albums, you can hear a sound that would be refined in later years and a “pre-apocalyptic” look, which would be one of the band’s hallmarks.
After the end of Carnivore, Peter Steele didn’t give up and went looking for other musicians. Josh Silver, a personal friend of Peter’s who had already produced Carnivore’s first album, was the first to be invited. In 1990, the band, with its current name and formation with Peter Steele (founding leader, vocalist and composer), Sal Abruscato (drummer), Kenny Hickey (guitarist) and Josh Silver (keyboardist), prepared their debut album. The following year, in addition to quality, the musical proposal was significant for the band to be signed by the record label Roadrunner Records.
Slow, Deep, and Hard was the beginning. The work brings characteristics of the extinct Carnivore, with visceral passages, some even sounding raw; others are very slow and close to Doom Metal. The opening track, titled Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity, lasts twelve minutes and is a reference to the other six songs that make up the album.
Other features of note are the acoustic passages and even the use of “sacred song” style choirs (made by Peter himself). It is also clear that one of the curiosities of this album is the name of the songs. For example, the Gravitational Constant range: G = 6.67 x 10-8 cm-3 gm-1 sec-2. In any case, the work was well received by critics and the public. Then, he goes on tour alongside Biohazard and The Exploited.
One more element can be found in the trajectory of Type O Negative. Generally, a band releases a live album after a few years of career, several albums released and a consistent position in its segment. In the case of Type O Negative, it wasn’t quite like that. The second album in their discography, The Origin of the Feces released in 1992, is already a live work, or at least it should be.
Rumours say that the record label Roadrunner had directly delivered to Peter an amount that would be enough to produce a live album. However, Peter would have spent all the money promoting parties and orgies. Thus, feeling obliged to deliver a “live” album to Roadrunner, the band re-recorded some tracks in the studio and, during mixing, inserted artificial applause and even dialogue so that the sound would sound like the live albums.[needs] from sources]
The fact is that The Origin of the Feces is not a live album. But, among the ten tracks that make up this work, some of which are from the previous album, the highlights are Hey Peter (version of Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix) and Paranoid. This CD was re-released in 1994 with a new cover, as the original showed a photo of singer Peter Steele’s anus (referring to the album’s title, i.e. the origin of the feces).
In 1993, the album Bloody Kisses was released, through which the aggressive and visceral sound of yesteryear gave way to more sophisticated melodies close to Doom Metal and gained a dark air; however, without sounding commercial. It was this work that established the first successes. The strong visual appeal was essential for the clips to be well received by the public, reaching the top of the MTV music video charts.
Vocalist Peter Steele alongside a fan.
In addition to its musical quality, Bloody Kisses also became known for the controversy generated by some songs. The intro, Machine Screw, begins with erotic female moans. Next, the second track, Christian Woman, tells in its lyrics the story of a teenager who sees Christ as a sexual symbol. The video for this song shows scenes of the teenager in bed with the supposed Christ. Additionally, Christian Woman ran for approximately nine minutes. Thus, not only did the duration have to be reduced, but the lyrics had to be adapted to be played on the radio.
The third track, Black nº 1, also had a music video version. Hardcore resurfaces on tracks like Fay Wray’s ” Come Out and play and Kill all the white people. Peter Steele pours out heartbreak and personal problems on tracks like Summer Breeze, Bloody Kisses, Too Late: Frozen and Blood & Fire.
In 1994, this album was re-released in a “digipack” version with a different cover and booklet and without the shorter tracks; however, it featured the previously unreleased Suspended in Dusk. That same year, The Origin of the Feces was re-released with a new cover. During a tour to promote Bloody Kisses, drummer Sal Abruscato fell out with the other members and left the band. Johnny Kelly, ex Life of Agony, was invited to fill the vacancy left by Sal.
The following year, Type O Negative was invited to participate in the Black Sabbath tribute, entitled Nativity in Black, alongside bands such as Megadeth, Bruce Dickinson, Sepultura, Faith No More, and White Zombie, among others. In this work, Type re-records the song Black Sabbath, with a darker arrangement, different from the original, while the other bands made similar reinterpretations of the original recordings. At this same time, Peter Steele poses nude for Playgirl magazine and increases the popularity of Type O Negative.
The album October Rust was released in 1996 and is considered by many fans to be the best work of his career.[who?] Throughout its fifteen songs, October Rust oscillates between romantic moods, such as Love You to Death (with piano introduction), which won a music video version; mild climates as found in Green Man; or denser like Red Water. Still, there is an electronic and more danceable passage in My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, which also became a music video but was banned in some countries due to the fact that it addresses female homosexuality. But this work does not leave aside the dark side of the band as in Wolf Moon, nor Peter’s introspection in Haunted. As usual, another track is named with a huge name: The Glorious Liberation Of The People’s Technocratic Republic Of Vinnland By The Combined Forces Of The United Territories Of Europa.
In the following years, Type O Negative participated in important festivals such as Ozzfest and on the soundtracks for the films Blair Witch, Bride of Chucky and, later, Mortal Kombat.
World Coming Down is the fifth album. This work was conceived during previous tours. However, personal tragedies, such as the death of Peter’s father, contributed to the album’s heavier atmosphere. Released in 1999, this album is cited as one of Type O Negative’s least successful, with more depressive lyrics and a slightly more commercial sound. But, among its 13 tracks, Everyone I Love Is Dead, All Hallow’s Eve, and Everything Dies still stand out, as well as a re-recording of the Beatles: Day Tripper.
In 2000, a promotional package was released containing a compilation of versions of the greatest hits of their career and some new ones, in addition to the DVD After Dark and an eight-page booklet entitled The Least Worst Of. At the same time, Johnny Kelly and Kenny Hickey began to also work on parallel projects. In 2001, the band got together to begin writing the next album.
After three years of anticipation from fans, Type released the new Life Is Killing Me. This work features fifteen tracks that maintain the band’s main characteristics. However, some details were incorporated into this album. For example, on the track Less than Zero, the band used a sitar, an “unconventional” instrument among bands of the genre. Peter’s vocals remain serious and deep, while Josh increases the sophistication with the keyboard arrangements. Life Is Killing Me pleases the oldest and most demanding fans and becomes another reference in the band’s discography.
Peter Steele, lead singer of Type O Negative.
In May 2005, information was released on the band’s official website that Peter Steele was dead. On the same page, there was a photo of the singer’s tombstone. Obviously, the news was immediately refuted. However, it is not yet known whether this was a joke by the members themselves or whether the webpage was invaded by hackers. In the same year, Peter Steele participated in the recording of the film Tao of M by James L. Bills, playing the vampire Viktor Baine.
At the beginning of 2006, the DVD Symphony for the Devil (The World of Type O Negative) was released by the German record company SPV. Along with the DVD, a single is released containing three covers by guitarist Carlos Santana: Evil Ways, Oye Como Va and Black Magic Woman.
In 2007, Dead Again was released, the band’s most recent work. It features ten new tracks, in addition to featuring the Russian mystic Rasputin in the graphic art on the cover. The first single from the album is the track The Profit of Doom, which can be heard on heavy metal radio stations. For the music video, the track was cut, as the original is almost 11 minutes long.
Despite there being a certain unity in the sound of the albums, classifying Type O Negative within just one style within Metal is a task that few fans and critics undertake. However, the influence of Black Sabbath, for example, is clear, but that doesn’t mean they are classified only as Doom Metal. In addition to the songs, the “vampiric” look has already labelled them as “Vampiric Metal” and, in other cases, as Gothic Metal. But Peter Steele declares that the style is “Gothadelic”. However, most fans label it as
On April 14, 2010, vocalist and bassist Peter Steele died, initially reported to have suffered cardiac arrest. His cause of death was later confirmed to be sepsis, caused by diverticulitis. The remaining members of Type O Negative decided to disband the band rather than replace Steele, with Johnny Kelly stating:
” “Even if there is someone who could take his place, it wouldn’t matter. We have no interest in continuing. It’s impossible – it hasn’t even come up in any kind of discussion. When Peter died, Type O Negative died with him.”
1991 – Slow, Deep and Hard
1992 – The Origin of the Feces
1993 – Bloody Kisses
1996 – October Rust
1999 – World Coming Down
2003 – Life Is Killing Me
2007 – Dead Again