Type O Negative might very well have been one of the most brilliantly non-PC musical groups of all time and ranks well up in my top twenty(20) favourite bands ever.
"I Don't Wanna Be Me"
A doom-metal band from Brooklyn, their irreverent humour permeated deep into what otherwise would have been some of the most depressing music... Although their music was dark, with lyrics about death, despair and failed romance, Type O Negative preferred to keep things as light-hearted as they could by pushing the level of "taste" to the very far end of the spectrum. A generally fun-loving band, their concerts often turned into food fights, their albums filled with gag-editting to fool the listener, and they even released a fake live album, completely with a fight between the "audience" and the band.
The referred to themselves proudly as "four dicks from Brooklyn" and were known to critics as "The Drab Four." Musical styles ranged from classic thrash metal to lush, slow textures of heavy guitar accompanied by pipe organ and sitar. Many song titles referenced death, such as Die With Me Everything Dies and Everyone I Love Is Dead, while others poked fun with titles like Kill All The White People and We Hate Everyone.
"We Hate Everyone"
The band's pure creativity typically showed itself through their titles combined with the general conflicting tones of the music, for (my favourite) example Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty of Infidelity which jumps seamlessly from loud thrashy metal to an up-beat pop, call-and-response chorus of "I know you're fucking someone else."
"Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty of Infidelity"
They are mostly known for two specific albums from early on in their catalog, the first being their second album, Bloody Kisses, which had the singular hit Black No. 1, a tongue-in-cheek song about a relationship with a girl from the "goth" subculture.
"Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)"
Their third and most well-known album was October Rust and is highly regarded by many fans as their best and most refined album. Most of the thrash metal aspect had been phased out by this point, and the music had veered slower, deeper and harder than ever before. This was a huge creative step for the band, because it allowed their style to explore more depth and intricate musical arrangements than in the past.
"Love You To Death"
Often crude, and most all of the time irreverent, Type O Negative still managed to shove some pretty serious subject matter into their work, especially in the case of the 1999 album World Coming Down. This album was (oddly) called "too dark" by many fans, but was a necessary step for lead singer Peter Steele, who had recently lost a few family members and had become quite the self-loathing alcoholic. This album is my personal favourite, probably because it's easily the most mature album they released.
"World Coming Down"
Eventually, after an aptly-titled album Life Is Killing Me, Steele went into rehab and rediscovered his Catholic roots, resulting in their final album Dead Again.
"Profits of Doom"
For a band that made a very specific point in trying to (in a fun way) piss off as many people as they could, there was still one group left: their fans. Because of that, I really have little-to-no doubt this was at least some of the reasoning (aside from Steele's re-found faith) behind the 14-minute song These Three Things, in which the band describes abortion as "infanticide" and states that all perpetrators will burn in hell.
"These Three Things"
Something I have yet to touch on but don't wish to forget is the band's excessive talent of covering other artists' songs... Many bands do covers, but not often will a band re-develop the style and feel of a song to make it sound as if they, themselves, had written it. Type O Negative was absolutely brilliant at converting and re-arranging songs, usually in a 2-3 song medley. They covered artists from similar genres, such as Black Sabbath, and others so outrageously different, like Neil Young, Santana, The Beatles, and Seals and Crofts.
"Summer Breeze / Set Me On Fire"
Sadly, Peter Steele died from heart failure in 2010, bringing the band to a solid end. While all the surviving members are absolutely strong and talented in their own rights, Type O Negative was definitely a band defined by its lead vocalist, and he was surely one that could not be replaced.
We miss you, Peter.