For this week’s Top 10, I’ve chosen to write about one of my all-time favorite bands: Type O Negative. “Type O” is well known for late frontman Peter Steele, a strapping, six-foot six-inch human being who once posed fully-erect in Playgirl. (I shared this fact with my friend Paul who quickly quipped, “Bro, Peter Steele is always fully erect. His blood and semen is the formula for Viagra.”) Always in the public eye, Peter Steele was also a guest on the Jerry Springer Show where he spoke about his interactions with groupies.
Lost in those stories is the fact that Type O Negative is arguably the greatest gothic metal band of all time—a band that could be from no other place than New York City, and a band that was full of humor and the uncanny ability to poke fun at the very thing their music claimed to hold so dear. So with that, let’s get into the playlist:
“Wolf Moon” (from October Rust, 1996)
Peter was a lover of women, both literally and figuratively, and what better way to celebrate women in their naturally intended state more than a song about performing oral sex on a woman while she is menstruating? Type O Negative always knows to turn a completely natural occurrence into a heightened sexual experience. “Beware, the woods at night…”
“Everything Dies” (from World Coming Down, 1999)
One of the themes that Type-O foreshadowed on October Rust‘s “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)”: a sense of loss throughout the years, piling up on your heart; death clouding otherwise happy celebrations. The whole album, World Coming Down, focuses on death. Given the title, that shouldn’t come as a shock. A sense of hopelessness in an unchangeable eternal order.
“All Hallows Eve” (from World Coming Down, 1999)
Type O Negative is a goth outfit, and we all know how the goths love Halloween. But tackling the subject without cheesing it up is certainly something new, and Peter took on that challenge with “All Hallows Eve.” Type O Negative not only takes on the subject of Halloween as we know it today but does so with aplomb, creating a beautiful anthem.
“Green Man” (from October Rust, 1996)
One of Peter’s most beloved nicknames is “The Green Man.” This is a result of his ever-present and ever-expressed love of nature, despite being born and raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn. With “Green Man” Peter envisioned himself as a part of nature and wrote mournfully about that connection to our eventual return to whence we came.
“Love You to Death” (from October Rust, 1996)
We often tell our loved ones that we “love [them] to death,” but do we really mean that? Well, Peter took it a step further when he wrote “Love You to Death,” the opener (once Type O Negative is done harassing their audience, a la Don Rickles) to October Rust.
“We Hate Everyone” (from Bloody Kisses, 1993)
“We Hate Everyone” begins as a punk anthem. Fuck the fascists! But it’s much more than that, as the song collapses into a celebration of not only what we hate, but also what we love. There is beauty in the hideous.
“Christian Woman” (from Bloody Kisses, 1993)
Let’s face it, Christian idolization of Jesus can get more than just a little sexual. The idea of feeling Jesus “deep inside of you” is clearly a double entendre. Type O Negative took that idea and turned it into a beautiful song in three parts, including themes of idolatry, sexualization of religious iconography, masturbation and BDSM. This is without question their panty-dropper.
“Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” (from Bloody Kisses, 1993)
In by far the band’s most tongue-in-cheek song, they tell us a story of a teenage girl who’s going to meet the devil at midnight, while it’s raining and blowing out. How delightful! But, alas, her roots are showing! What can she do? Nothing but dye those roots black and head out into the dark, stormy night. The song is named after the dye Black No. 1 which is accepted by all hair types and colors—the most universal of dyes, much like Type O Negative is the most universal of blood. Clever, eh?
“Life is Killing Me” (from Life is Killing Me, 2003)
Life is Killing Me saw a return to the punkier, faster and angrier side of Type O Negative. The title track was Peter’s way of ripping on the medical profession and showing his utter exasperation at the inability to cure him of his afflictions. Sadly, this song proved prophetic, as he tragically passed away on April 14, 2010—a result of his lifelong celebrations of life.
“Creepy Green Light” (from World Coming Down, 1999)
Type O Negative was known for the color green—not only in Steele’s affectionate nickname, but also for their frequent live performances in black jeans and, yes, green t-shirts. That harsh, neon tone came to define them. So, with “Creepy Green Light,” Peter uses the color as a guide to resurrect his fallen lover on none other than Halloween night.
The Horns Up Top 10 on Spotify
And that’s that. Ten songs from one of my all-time favorite bands. Enjoy!