Hypnotizing ballads hit hard
Gothic metal band’s albums, singles receive wide acclaim
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 14:09
A lost treasure can be defined as a gem, buried so deep that it is invisible with no one aware of just how precious of a stone it really is — a perfect way to describe the gothic metal band Type O Negative.
Originally known as the Northern Lights in the late 1970s, band members Peter Steele, Kenny Hickey, Josh Silver and Johnny Kelly settled on the name Type O Negative before the release of their debut album “Slow, Deep and Hard” in June of 1991.
The album was just that. Slow, dragged out guitars with both deep and hard-hitting lyrics. The topics ranged from promiscuous women, suicide and killing a cheating lover to human scum. It was topped off with the track “Hey Pete,” a sinister version of “Hey Joe,” a song famously covered by Jimi Hendrix.
While it was a great album with drawn out, sorrowful guitar riffs and punk-like outbursts, it wasn’t enough to draw attention to the band members.
The spotlight would not shine on them until the 1993 release of their third album “Bloody Kisses.” Armed with songs “Christian Woman” and “Black No. 1” as their hit singles, Type O Negative would go on to receive acclaim by fans and critics resulting in the album reaching platinum status.
The album was a change from the band’s previous two as the subject matter became less violent.
Tracks like “Too Late: Frozen” would start off fast-paced, bringing the listener into a sense of comfort, thinking the song was typical of its earlier work. Suddenly the mood would shift midway through, almost as if it was playing in slow motion.
The song grows darker and the vocals become more haunting as the lyrics tell of a man who had grown numb and frozen after the betrayal of his former lover.
Such themes continued in the feeling of loneliness expressed in the song “Blood and Fire” and the desperation of “Can’t Lose You,” communicated in only four lyrics repeated on a loop.
And what would come to be a typical feature on their album, the band covered “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Croft, slowing down the happy tempo to match its somber sound.
“Bloody Kisses” was the start of what would come to be lead singer Peter Steele’s trademark vampire-like vocals that would mesh perfectly with their next album “October Rust.”
No doubt their most erotic album, “Rust” tackled the themes of love and romance that are unmistakable in the lyrics.
A prime example is “Love You to Death,” a sensual ballad filled with erotic lyrics.
Listening to Steele’s voice is almost hypnotizing, as the soft piano, mixed in with the hard guitar riffs, set the mood for what would be the sexiest track on the album.
But undoubtedly the most heartbreaking track is “Red Water (Christmas Mourning).”
As soon as the music kicks in, the listener can almost picture a snowy winter day and an empty house filled with nothing but decorations, as the lyrics describe a sad Christmas Day where four members of a family have passed away.
For this album, Type O Negative would cover Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” a break from previous covers as the sound is upbeat and not as dark as listeners had come to expect.
With the mesmerizing voice of Steele combined with the harmonic and synchronized backing vocals of Hickey, Silver and Kelly, as well as the talent Steele displayed on his bass guitar to complement Kelly’s skilled drum play, Type O Negative is a unique band of the ’90s with its own sound.
Sadly, the death of Steele in April of 2010, laid the band to rest for good, so fans will only have its past music to remember it by.
The albums are a masterpiece of music created by a band that did not get the recognition it truly deserved, and that is what makes Type O Negative a lost treasure.