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Rank and File

Rank and File: Type O Negative

Type O Negative is the most interesting goth metal band of all time, and surely one of the most noteworthy bands to keep metal in the mainstream during the 90s. If their eclectic style is anything to go by, they were influenced by just as many groups as they themselves influenced. They had a knack for writing songs whose hooks were as catchy as their structures were drawn out. Vocalist/bassist Peter Steele’s lyrics and overall aesthetic were deeply rooted in nihilistic self-deprecation, resulting in depressingly hilarious lyrics. The Drab Four didn’t seem to care what anybody thought of them through it all, though that didn’t stop them from seeking to get a rise out of people either.

The above listed qualities are also why Type O Negative’s discography is a difficult one to rank. The band always kept a core goth sound but each of their outings has something to different to offer whether it be hardcore attitude, pop psychedelia, soul crushing doom, or some ungodly combination. In addition, the writing and performances on each album are consistently high quality, ultimately leaving such determinations to individual preference. And with respect to Peter Steele’s memory, here are mine.

7) Origin of the Feces

I wasn’t sure whether to include Origin of the Feces in this ranking at first. At the end of the day, it merits recognition for not only being a “fake” live album but also for perfectly summing up Type O Negative’s character in the early days. The recording’s audience may not be real, but it reflects the reception that the band received on tour as well as their own hilariously sardonic reaction to it. Songs are prematurely cut off to counter rude crowd chants with biting one-liners and a few deep cuts can be found amongst the chaos. It has more in common with Peter Steele’s Jerry Springer appearance than a proper album, but Type O fans will get a kick out of it.
Final Grade: B-

6) Life is Killing Me

Despite its morose title, Life is Killing Me may be the most upbeat Type O Negative album. It’s certainly not a happy effort, but the emphasis on punk and psychedelia results in a lighthearted sound, especially when contrasted to its predecessor World Coming Down. The lyrics are also sillier than usual as “I Like Goils” makes homophobia funnier than it should be, while “How Could She” laments the lingering attraction to women on various tv shows. I also have a soft spot for the shoegaze-driven “(We Were) Electrocute” as it was the first song I ever heard from the band. The album could probably stand to trim a couple songs but it’s an enjoyable listen.
Final Grade: A-

5) Bloody Kisses

It’s interesting how Bloody Kisses came to be Type O Negative’s mainstream breakthrough and Roadrunner’s first platinum album. Sure “Christian Woman” and “Black No. 1” only became hits after a few choice edits, but the numerous interludes and bipolar style changes all topped with abrasive lyrics don’t exactly lend themselves easily to commercialization to begin with. Pete and guitarist Kenny Hickey may have started crooning more to suit the slowed down tempos and the production got cleaner, but each goth anthem is countered by some punk tune or lingering hardcore shouts. The original version may be a little too off the wall for its own good, but the songs are strong enough to warrant the classic status.
Final Grade: A-

4) Slow, Deep and Hard

Whether it was Type O Negative’s debut or the Carnivore album that never was, Slow, Deep and Hard is a fantastic album. Fusing doom and hardcore punk was nothing new at the time but even today, there are very few bands doing so with this degree of structural complexity and melody. Pete’s delivery may be an almost exclusively atonal bellow but the lines themselves are incredibly catchy and the riffs are as infectious as they are furious. Speaking of furious, the anger felt throughout this album borders on inhuman and its seething rage would make Killing Is My Business-era Megadeth stop to ask if they’re doing okay. I play this album every Valentine’s Day, even in the times when I’m in a stable relationship.
Final Grade: A

3) World Coming Down

Type O Negative always veiled their depression with a snarky demeanor, and World Coming Down is where they truly let their guard down. Once you get past the twelve goofy seconds of the opening “Skip It” (Suckaaa!), you’ll find a massive soundscape of exhausting riffs, morose vocals delivering distraught lyrics, agonizing structures, and tempos that border on funeral doom. Would-be singles like “Everyone I Love is Dead” and “Pyretta Blaze” are slower than usual and thoroughly miserable. Even the normally goofy interludes are some of the haunting soundscapes you’ll ever hear; “Lung” alone just might drive you to tears.

That description likely turned off some potential listeners, and I’d be lying if I said this album is an easy listen. It’s a very hard album to get used to but once you’re there, you feel it in your soul. There’s no real complexity at work nor any of the band’s signature eclecticism present, but you’ll never feel anything as soul crushing as “White Slavery” in your life. How the hell does one write a song about cocaine that’s this goddamned slow anyway? Essential sad boy jams.
Final Grade: A

2) October Rust

October Rust is the closest that Type O Negative got to making an all-out commercial album, but still they did it their own way. That could be attributed to the band bringing their 60s-70s influences to the forefront. The Doors-style organ defines “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend,” psychedelic swings build up on “Be My Druidess” and “Burnt Flowers Fallen,” and their take on Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” was a guaranteed hit. Thankfully the album maintains their sense of humor and adventurous songwriting, even if it’s based more on catchy choruses and swaggered out doom than off-the-wall tempo jumps this time around. It’s a good first album for new listeners to try and its autumn pagan aesthetic makes it mandatory for any Halloween playlist.
Final Grade: A

1) Dead Again

Much like Judas Priest’s Angel of Retribution, Dead Again is a sort of greatest hits by way of new album. All of Type O Negative’s eras are represented as the title track and “Tripping a Blind Man” resurrect their early hardcore punk influence, “The Profits of Doom” and “These Three Things” are epic World Coming Down-style doom dirges, “She Burned Me Down” is catchy goth rock, and “September Sun” and “An Ode to Locksmiths” find different ways to incorporate psychedelia. This diversity stays united thanks to consistent songwriting and the band’s most polished production job.

But what really makes the album interesting is the lyrical theme, which details Pete’s conversion to Christianity just before his death. While such moves are swiftly connected to a band’s downfall, the opposite ends up happening as a blend of catharsis and wit results in some of the band’s most compelling songs. This may not be an album that comes up often as many prefer the band’s more nostalgic 90s albums, but I don’t think this would be a bad place to start for new fans. I can’t help but wonder if Pete would be at Dave Mustaine/Blackie Lawless levels of born again crazy if he was still alive, but I can safely say that he is one of the few musicians who made his best album after finding Jesus.
Final Grade: A

 

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4 comments

Travis Swint
Travis Swint May 10, 2018 at 6:59 pm

When I saw them live they played the chicken dance for about 37 minutes before their set, a noteworthy bit of trivia for you.

Reply
Jeni Coffey
Jeni Coffey May 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm

I remember that!

Reply
Travis Swint
Travis Swint May 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm

People were visibly pissed. Lol

Reply
Nate Vaught
Nate Vaught May 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm

Hearting this now because duh, reading and responding later (probably tomorrow).

Reply

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