Pete Steele, the giant lead singer for goth-metal band Type O Negative, has passed away due to heart failure at the age of 48. Steele was a force in both size and voice – his deep, Dracula-esque tone was a trademark of the band. He also posed nude in Playgirl Magazine several years ago (not that I would know first-hand).
I won’t go into their history, but I will talk about their album “Bloody Kisses.” It’s one of my favorite albums, from start to finish…there are no mediocre songs – each one is beautifully crafted, featuring some incredible lyrics, dark imagery, and low, heavy guitar riffs. There are a few short interludes featuring pre-recorded sound effects, such as the opening track “Machine Screw,” where our ears are greeted by a woman moaning in ecstasy while the gears of an industrial device turn and creak loudly. This segues into the best track of the album, “Christian Woman.” Musically the song features some beautiful acoustic guitar melodies, and ending with a more heavy metal segment. The lyrics are amazing – they describe a woman’s moral conflict regarding her love for Jesus/God. She loves him so intensely that she wants to actually have sexual intercourse with him, but she knows that for her lusty desire she will burn in Hell. It’s a fascinating concept, and the picture is beautifully painted by Steele’s words:
A cross upon her bedroom wall
From grace she will fall
An image burning in her mind
And between her thighs…
She’d like to know God
Ooh love God
Feel her God
Inside of here – deep inside of her
“Black No. 1” is about as Goth as a song can get. At over 11 minutes long, it basically describes a woman dressing up to go out, and details the makeup routine she follows. There are a couple of tongue-in-cheek tracks on the album – “Kill All the White People” and “We Hate Everyone.” The former is just a fast-paced pseudo-racist rant that repeats the song’s title over and over, followed by “Then we’ll be free!” The latter tune is a rockin’ number about how the more controversial a person/band is, the more popular (and rich) they will be.
The band’s cover of Seals & Crofts’ easy listening hit from the 70’s, “Summer Breeze,” is a highlight for sure. Steele maintains the charm of the original through his melodic recitation of the lyrics, but the song’s brooding, heavy grooves make it a Type O song without a doubt. The title track and “Too Late: Frozen” conjure up very dark depictions of death and suffering, but are done with a great mix of sweet melodies and heavy-but-not-fast metal. The one track that isn’t quite on par with the rest of the album is “Blood and Fire,” a somewhat generic Goth-metal tune, but it’s good nonetheless. The album concludes with “Can’t Lose You,” a Beatles-esque tune featuring a sitar-like guitar sound. It’s a great song, and even ends with the “I Am the Walrus” chanting vocals.
I never got to see the band live, which I regret, as I heard their stage show was quite entertaining….like White Zombie meets The Cure. In the overall annals of music history, Type O Negative will occupy just a small corner – they were mildly influential, and their other albums had some good moments. But “Bloody Kisses” will go down, as far as I’m concerned, as a masterpiece of the Goth-metal genre. Anyone who remotely enjoys that kind of music must own this album.
Bloody Kisses gets 5 out of 5 stars!!