Perpetually swathed in shades of green and black, Type O Negative emerged from the New York City hardcore scene at the start of the ‘90s with a sound and style so highly individual and assertive they instantly aroused extreme reactions. Organist Josh Silver, drummers Sal Abruscato and Johnny Kelly, and guitarist Kenny Hickey formed a strong, distinctive musical chemistry, but with Pete Steele, the gentle giant with a bone-dry streak of sardonic self-deprecation, they had a uniquely charismatic and gifted frontman, his plaintive high notes and low vampyric croon as instantly recognisable as his towering form. His tragic death in 2010 robbed the world of an extraordinary unit, but let’s now remember and celebrate Type O’s ever-evolving creative flair with a discographical overview in reverse order of merit – if such a concept makes any sense for a band whose Best Of was styled The Least Worst Of.
7) Origin Of The Feces
The hairy ringpiece on the original cover – in fact a multi-level intellectual in-joke subverting Charles Darwin and Gustave Coubert – perfectly signposted the attitude of Type O’s second release; a spoof anti-live album with comedically antagonistic audience interaction, memorialising the period when their concerted chain-yanking saw the band emerge as divisive pariahs on the live circuit. Regurgitating debut tracks but renaming them on the back cover was another crafty piss-take.
6) Life Is Killing Me
An energetic bounce back from the oppressive darkness of its predecessor, Life Is Killing Me provided some of the band’s highest-octane material, notably vigorous singalong head-shaker I Don’t Wanna Be Me, and allowed Pete’s pure pop Beatles influences to shine. Throw in some fun-time punk, windswept arena rock pastiche and kitsch pop culture references and you’ve got an album that doesn’t necessarily play to their strengths, but is still a perky, versatile experiment.
5) Dead Again
An exploratory rollercoaster through the band’s multifarious strands, with moods and tempos rising and falling, more considered, progressive arrangements, richer production and a sparky, live-in-the-studio energy. A little bit all over the place, but with some of their best-realised material, Dead Again found new variations on a highly singular modus operandi. Tragic, then, that it was forced to become Type O’s final release when Pete Steele died in 2010.
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4) World Coming Down
Although dominated by bitter melancholy and bleak, strung-out gloom, World Coming Down manages to advance the songcraft with the irresistible melodic beauty of Everyone I Love Is Dead and Everything Dies, plus the Into-The-Void-and-beyond riffing of Pyretta Blaze and a sludgy Beatles medley. Creepy ambient interludes add to the immersive atmospheres, and the tongue-in-cheek humour and libidinous braggadocio are cast aside for this heavily solemn and sombre Drab Four experience.
3) Slow, Deep And Hard
The startling, visceral debut made a distinctive impact on various underground scenes in 1991, the band loved and loathed in equal measure for their mischievous obtuseness. All had to admire the one-of-a-kind nature of their self-produced sound and style, the first album hitting the ground running with some of their harshest doom, angriest hardcore and darkest industrial, as well as the catchy hooks, shoegazey cadences and blackly humorous lyrics.
2) Bloody Kisses
The digipak edition dropped the quirky interludes and flippantly provocative thrash-punk numbers like Kill All The White People and We Hate Everyone, and added the sumptuous funereal monolith Suspended In Dusk, to make Bloody Kisses a far more committed, elegant gothic doom masterwork. Gargantuan hits Christian Woman and Black No. 1 perfectly showcased the band’s evolving songcraft, mordant wit and deviant sexuality, helping the album become Roadrunner’s first US Platinum release.
1) October Rust
After a prank opener and a jovial message of thanks from the band, this autumnal epic represents the culmination of Type O’s progress from ugly ducklings to ugly swans, honing their dreamy alt-pop sensibilities while nailing some of their most affecting doom atmospheres in Red Water, Wolf Moon and Haunted. But it’s the lush harmonic textures and radiant romanticism that proved the biggest revelation, holding the attention for 70+ minutes of unorthodox beguilement.