Type O Negative were a gothic doom metal band with major prominence in the early days of the ‘90s through most of the ‘00s before the passing of lead singer and vocalist Peter Steele. The band also featured guitarist Kenny Hickey, keyboardist Josh Silver and drummer Johnny Kelly for most of their colossal albeit short run of seven albums from 1991 to 2007, before the loss that ended the band in 2010. They were famous for their humor, gothic song structures and cover songs that they made undoubtedly their own. They used samples, strange sounds and in-jokes to move the albums along into tremendous tracks that they would masterfully develop into titanic tomes of somber and livid lyrics, often reflecting the inner madness of their frontman. Here is our ranking of the band’s albums.
7. Slow Deep & Hard (1991)
On Type O Negative’s first full-length foray, the band was still heavily influenced by Steele’s former band Carnivore in terms of some of the lyrical content being more politically charged, which was part of the appeal of the former band’s Retaliation. The long form songs that Type O would become famous for playing existed in a more primordial version such as “Unsuccessfully Coping With the Natural Beauty of Infidelity” and “Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 x 10⁻⁸ cm⁻³ gm⁻¹ sec⁻²” which took on other forms on the following album.
Throwaway jokes, which were a part of the band’s identity through World Coming Down are included here including a long-lasting repeated use of the sounds of broken glass on “Glass Walls of Limbo [Dance Mix]” and a minute of silence (“The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences”). Slow Deep & Hard album has its moments, but really is just a collection of things the band would eventually do better on subsequent releases.
6. The Origin Of The Feces (Not Live At Brighton Beach) (1992)
On the band’s second album, they attempted to capture a “live” concert complete with hecklers and Steele’s stage banter on full display. Prior songs were tightened up and seen here as “I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else,” “Gravity,” “Pain” and “Kill You Tonight,” with enough variation and cleaned up for a better look into what each track would sound like when fully realized.
The humor on The Origin Of The Feces comes from more than Steele belittling the “paid” crowd, it also comes in the form of fake bomb threats and the album’s original cover is a shot of his sphincter, thus giving the album it’s title. Kenny Hickey’s guitar tone is more fully executed and noticeable to fans who have heard some of the band’s other work beyond this point. I don’t want to make it feel as though I’m ragging on the band’s first two releases, its just that there is a clear line of demarcation in their discography; it’s the first two albums and then everything else.
5. World Coming Down (1999)
On Type O Negative’s fifth album, the band’s sound is a gothic metal titan with plenty of gloom on tracks like “Everyone I Love Is Dead,” “World Coming Down” and “Everything Dies.” The theme here is clearly the idea of death, seeing as this was an album written after a multitude of mortality in Steele’s immediate family. On “Pyretta Blaze” an excellent groove takes hold, played at a snail’s pace with Josh Silver’s keyboard work prominently coming through between Hickey’s riffs and Johnny Kelly’s work behind the kit.
The Sabbathian sections that the band play through capture the band at its sonic height, coupled with Steele’s sardonic wit with lyrics like “we are all cremated equally” help them stand apart from their sonic contemporaries. The album is punctuated by tracks with different levels of bodily failures, resulting in what would appear to be a painful death after “Lung.” Their medley of Beatles covers is a wonderfully heavy rendition of songs played with a new sense of purpose. World Coming Down lacks some of the cohesiveness of the band’s absolute best albums and while great in its own right, falls just short of the other four.
4. Dead Again (2007)
On what would be Type O Negative’s final album before Peter Steele’s untimely death, they show no signs of rust from their previous album four years earlier, with long form compositions like “Tripping A Blind Man,” the herculean riffs on “The Profit of Doom” and the massive “These Three Things” among the other tracks. Gone are the interlude tracks and these are 10 of the best songs that the Drab Four had ever recorded.
Each is distinctive and crushing with ample dark and brooding atmosphere with Hickey’s riffs buoying Steele’s vocals and overly rolled “R’s,” Josh Silver’s arrangements and Kelly’s simple, yet essential drumming. Dead Again stands out as one of the band’s most powerful and direct albums in their entire discography. It was also a sad ending seeing as they were as powerful as ever, but knowing Steele in his infernal humor, a sad ending could only have been fitting for Type O Negative.
3. Life Is Killing Me (2003)
After the turn of the millennium, Type O Negative would only release two more albums prior to Steele’s premature passing. The first was 2003’s Life Is Killing Me, an ode to general dissatisfaction with life, mental illness and the deterioration of the health of those closest to him. This comes across on the lead track “I Don’t Wanna Be Me,” detailing his personal struggles while noting that things couldn’t be worse than there were at that time. Playing this way against a backdrop of what can seem upbeat with thoroughly downtrodden lyrics is peak Type O and is a perfect encapsulation of Steele’s songwriting prowess.
Gone are the interlude tracks and much like the next album, this record really gets to the point, even if the album and song lengths haven’t changed all that drastically. The title track, “We Were Electrocute” and a hilariously dark cover of “Angry Inch” help check off the hallmarks of a vibrantly verdant Type O Negative album, only topped by their two finest hours.
2. Bloody Kisses (1993)
Type O Negative’s third album Bloody Kisses expanded upon every sense of their newly found identity from the first two albums and made it more their own. The first two proper tracks “Christian Woman” and “Black No.1,” especially its radio edit, helped to establish Type O’s foothold in the heavy music scene and music videos at the time of its release. The album features many fully fleshed out songs with plenty of humor at the expense of others especially on “Black No.1,” a song based on hair color features. Lyrics like “Yeah you wanna go out, ’cause it’s raining and blowing. You can’t go out, ’cause your roots are showing” prove that few if any were excused from Steele’s wit. One of the band’s most famous covers “Summer Breeze” is also featured here, played at a glacial pace with heavy riffs and a wonderful baritone to make the track sound as if it was their own.
The b-side of the record is chock full of excellent goodies in the form of “Blood & Fire” and “Too Late: Frozen.” The former was also featured on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack, giving the band and many others of the extreme disposition at the time plenty of exposure, the latter featuring Steele using his voice to fuel some pirate themed “yo ho” hijinks amidst a song about a feeling left ice cold and isolated. Some leftover tracks of the Carnivore variety are still here but while good, take away from the other source material when heard as a complete package on Bloody Kisses. This would also be the band’s final recording with drummer Sal Abruscato, giving way to their final form. Bloody Kisses is still a crucially important piece of what gothic metal would be at the time and going forward.
1. October Rust (1996)
Making this list was a thoroughly difficult endeavor, especially choosing between the top two albums seeing as they are infinitesimally close. The band’s fourth proper album is a master class in atmosphere, sardonic humor and sexuality. “Love You To You Death,” “Be My Druidess” and later on “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” showcase Steele sounding like he should be fronting The Sisters of Mercy among other ‘80s goth influencers. Josh Silver’s keyboard work here gives off major church vibes and a spooky x-factor that is just another in a line of solidified sounds from the Bloody Kisses sessions. This time around “Cinnamon Girl” is the cover song of choice featuring a brooding chorus in the darkest way possible, in a way that would certainly make Neil Young blush.
Closing out the album are “Wolf Moon” and “Haunted.” The former might appear like lycan lore, but there is a monthly sanguine surprise hidden within, and the latter brings back the subject that the album started with, a lost love now long gone, with the morning light a not so gentle reminder of beginning anew and in this case alone. “Haunted”’s somber introduction evokes the feelings of loss, something that the Drab Four would continue to incorporate on the following albums as this serves as a fitting close to their first album as a complete unit with new drummer Johnny Kelly on board. This was the first album with the classic lineup, and it showcases a well-oiled machine at their artistic peak. October Rust is a bonafide classic and just edges out its predecessor for the top spot on this list. Over 25 years later this album stands the test of time amply well. It has been a long time since Peter Steele left this mortal coil and his bandmates appropriately ended the band with his passing. Perhaps no one person loomed larger over a band than that of the statuesque former member of the New York City department of sanitation, bassist, and vocalist.