Type O Negative was an American gothic / doom metal band formed in Brooklyn, New York City in 1989. Their lyrical emphasis on themes of romance, depression and death resulted in the nickname “The Drab Four” (in homage to The Beatles’ “Fab Four” moniker). The band went Platinum with 1993’s Bloody Kisses, and Gold with 1996’s October Rust, and gained a fanbase through seven studio albums, two best-of compilations and concert DVDs. On April 14, 2010, lead vocalist, bassist, and principal songwriter Peter Steele died, reportedly from heart failure brought on by an aortic aneurysm. Members Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly stated in a November 2010 interview with French music magazine Rock Hard that the band would not continue.
Former Carnivore frontman Steele, along with childhood friends Sal Abruscato (later replaced by Johnny Kelly), Josh Silver and Kenny Hickey, formed Type O Negative and signed to Roadrunner Records. Shortly after signing in 1991 the band released their debut – Slow, Deep and Hard. Type O’s first album Slow Deep and Hard incorporated dragging dirge riffs, maniacal punk-metal outbursts, and droning industrial and gothic atmospheres. The songs were long, multi-part theatrical epics, with lyrical topics ranging from heartbreak to getting revenge on a cheating lover and even contemplating suicide.
Back in the States, Type O began creating a new album that was supposed to be live. The subsequent 1992 album was entitled The Origin of the Feces and a warning label was put on the album cover : “Not Live At Brighton Beach”.
Type O Negative’s third album, Bloody Kisses, was released in 1993 to critical and listeners acclaim and eventually became the first record for Roadrunner to reach certified Platinum status in the US. Bloody Kisses mostly addressed loneliness and heartbreak, with songs like “Too Late: Frozen”, “Blood & Fire” and “Can’t Lose You”. In order to promote the album, Type O Negative embarked on a two-year world tour. During this time, the band was featured on MTV, VH1 and in Rolling Stone. In the midst of this media blitz, drummer Sal Abruscato quit the band to join another Brooklyn quartet, Life of Agony. Johnny Kelly, the band’s drum technician, was therefore hired as a full-fledged member.
Type O’s October Rust picked up where Bloody Kisses left off, this album continued to explore themes of sex and sensuality, explored in a humorous sense on the single “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” and then taken much darker with “Love You To Death”. This record also saw a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” as well as the fan favorite, semi-serene “Green Man”. While not quite as successful as Bloody Kisses, the album was certified Gold in the US, and was the first Type O Negative album to enter the top half of the Billboard Top 200, debuting at No. 42.
With the completion of another successful world tour, writing for a fourth album began. In the period immediately following the release of October Rust, resulted in 1999’s World Coming Down. World Coming Down debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Top 200 charts.
A best of album followed in 2000, entitled The Least Worst of Type O Negative. Although most songs appear on previous albums, many are unreleased remixes or B-sides of previously released singles. Along with these songs are some unreleased numbers from the World Coming Down sessions, the band’s cover
of “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath (Peter Steele’s version with different lyrics, written from the perspective of Satan), and a cleaner version of “Hey Pete” (originally released on the mock live album The Origin of the Feces).
Type O Negative’s sixth studio album, Life Is Killing Me, was released in 2003. For this album, the band picked up the pace of their sound from the direful slowness of World Coming Down. Songs such as “Todd’s Ship Gods (Above All Things)”, “(We Were) Electrocute” and “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” convey the band’s classic elements of melody.
Type O then left Roadrunner for SPV Records and released Dead Again (2007). Dead Again debuted at No. 27 in the United States; the band’s highest chart debut to date. They also continued to tour through October of that year, including a performance at the Rock am Ring festival in Nürburgring, Germany.
On April 14, 2010, frontman and bassist Peter Steele died, reportedly from heart failure. In a November 2010 interview with Rock Hard magazine, Johnny Kelly and Kenny Hickey confirmed that following Steele’s death, Type O Negative had definitely split-up.
Steele cited Black Sabbath and The Beatles as main influences on Type O Negative. Other influences are psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, hard rock and metal bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest and AC/DC, as well hardcore groups like Agnostic Front and goth rock/post punk bands such as Bauhaus, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance.
Soundtracks and Covers
Type O Negative’s songs have appeared in numerous motion pictures, including “Blood and Fire (Out of the Ashes Remix)” on the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie soundtrack (also on the bonus CD of Life is Killing Me), “Love You to Death” in Bride of Chucky, “(We Were) Electrocute” in Freddy vs. Jason and “Summer Breeze” in I Know What You Did Last Summer. As a result of Howard Stern being a self-professed fan, Private Parts : The Album contains “Pictures of Matchstick Men” with the band playing music and Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. “Haunted” also appears on The Blair Witch Project “soundtrack CD”. In 1998, Arrow Videos made their own version of the 1922 classic horror film Nosferatu, by simply overdubbing the silent film with a soundtrack consisting entirely of Type O Negative tracks, taken from the first four albums.
In other media, the computer game Descent 2 features a shortened, instrumental version of the track “Haunted”. Additionally, Descent 2: The Vertigo Series contains a full-length version of the instrumental; the compilation Duke Nukem: Music to Score By features “Cinnamon Girl (Extended Depression Mix)”; “Love You to Death” in the computer game Blood; “Out of the Fire” from the Life is Killing Me bonus CD was a theme created for WWE Superstar Kane, but was never used. Recently, the opening two seconds of “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” were used as a frequent sample in Grand Theft Auto IV, on the Liberty Rock Radio Station. Most recently, the 2012 video game The Darkness II features Type O Negative’s Black Number 1 in its multiplayer lobby, played at random amongst other songs.
Type O Negative performed and recorded numerous covers. The Doors’ “Light My Fire” has been covered live numerous times, mostly during the 90s. Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” appears on Bloody Kisses and Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” appears on October Rust. The tongue-in-cheek “Angry Inch” (from Hedwig and the Angry Inch) appears on Life is Killing Me. World Coming Down includes a Beatles medley consisting of “Day Tripper”, “If I Needed Someone”, and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.
Other covers include a rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and “N.I.B.”; Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” with Ozzy Osbourne, two versions of “Black Sabbath” (one with the original lyrics and one rewritten by Peter Steele to be from Satan’s perspective), Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” (rewritten as “Hey Pete”); The Beatles’ “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”. A medley of Santana’s “Evil Ways”, “Oye Como Va”, and “Black Magic Woman” are also available on the CD accompanying the DVD Symphony for the Devil. The 2007 tour song set started with a cover of “Magical Mystery Tour” from The Beatles.
“In the Flesh”, originally written by Pink Floyd from their album “The Wall”, is another song that Type O Negative covered, as they used it as the opening song for their 1999 World Tour. Their version can be seen on the live DVD, “Symphony for the Devil”. Also on the same DVD, in “Too Late: Frozen”, the intro began with Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung”.