Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14: Type O Negative, "Bloody Kisses"

Artist: Type O Negative
Album: Bloody Kisses
Year: 1993
Label: Roadrunner

As the sparse, dark post-punk movement began to fade away, it was replaced by a movement that remains to this day. Taking the gloomy, heartbreak-ridden themes and splintering it into countless musical directions, the early 1990's marked the explosion of a strange genre usually referred to as "goth." While most of the bands in this genre would now be seen as "emo," there are a number of bands who took this "goth" aesthetic and fused it with more aggressive elements of music. Combining dark imagery with crushing metal music, Type O Negative remain one of the most beautiful, yet musically pulverizing bands in history. At the beginning of a string of five sensational albums stands the bands' breakthrough record, their stunning 1993 release, Bloody Kisses.

A quartet for metalheads from Brooklyn, NY, Type O Negative preferred a slower, more melodic style of thrash metal, and topped it off with a decent dose of sarcasm. This need for a sense of humor is most evident on tracks like the pairing of "Fay Wray Come Out And Play" and "Kill All The White People." Though songs like these were present throughout their career, Bloody Kisses marks a clear turning point for Type O Negative, as they clearly hit their musical maturity, and their songs benefit in every sense of the word. The musical construction of the songs is far superior to their two previous efforts, and it is clear that the band has found their lyrical voice as well. The band takes a moment for a quick cover song, as they put an amazingly unique and stunning spin on the Seals and Crofts classic, "Summer Breeze."

At their core, Type O Negative is a sensational heavy metal band. With crushing, majestic guitar work from Kenney Hickey, the band presented a type of "loud music" that had never before been heard. Drummer Sal Abruscato plays sensationally throughout the album, yet Bloody Kisses would serve as his final body of work with the band, leaving shortly after the subsequent tour ended. The varied sound effects and synthesizer work of Josh Silver provides a dimension to the music that makes the band even more unique. Much of the time, it is Silver's synthesizer work that helps to alter the mood of the songs from "metal" to "goth." This mood is further enforced by the presence of a pair of philharmonic orchestras on the album, and the string arrangements are yet another way in which Type O Negative separated themselves from their peers.

The deep, strong voice of Peter Steele is what truly makes the music of Type O Negative sensational. His voice is nothing short of remarkable, and when he "let's loose" on the vocals, it is absolutely awe-inspiring. Steele, a musical giant in every sense of the word (he is 6'7"), possesses one of the most jaw-droppingly remarkable voices ever, and his unmistakable, seductive bass vocals remain unmatched to this day. On Bloody Kisses, Steele pens some of his most amazing songs of heartbreak, love, and loss, yet one can read far deeper into the songs. If you explore the lyrical content of Bloody Kisses, it becomes clear that Steele is, in fact, satirizing the emotional excess not only of his own songs, but of the entire "goth" genre as well. This underlying commentary is amusing at times, yet pinpoint accurate the entire time. This jesting is perhaps most prominent when Steele sings an unforgiving mocking of the "goth girl" stereotype with the brilliant, "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)." It is this ability to criticize those who buy their records and share stages with them, yet somehow not deter these people, that makes Type O Negative the brilliant band that they remain to this day.

Due to their excessively long songs (which are also part of their mockery of their genre), and the subject matter therein, it is easy to write off Type O Negative as "just another goth or metal band." However, both musically and lyrically, there is truly no other band in history that come close the the sound they create. Very self-aware, the band constantly take shots at the silliness of their genre-mates and fan base, penning clever, scathing critiques and fusing them into their majestic musical landscapes. Led by the unmistakably spectacular voice of Peter Steele, Type O Negative have been releasing unique, sensational albums for over twenty years. In 1993, the band finally found the perfect way to present their style of music, and the result was the stunning album, Bloody Kisses.

Standout tracks: "Christian Woman," "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)," and "Too Late: Frozen."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

RIP Peter Steele.