The early 1990s of metal were a veritable free for all. In the years preceding the Nu-Metal age, there was definitely a push back if you were trying to be unique and blending genres of metal in any way. If you were anything beyond a typical thrash or hardcore band, with a few exceptions (some death metal, Faith No More) you might have been shunned. In the case of Type O Negative, they didn’t just innovate and try new things, they kicked the goddamn door in and blew us all away. They never did this more than on 1993’s Bloody Kisses (Roadrunner) album. Mostly eschewing the straight up thrash hardcore of frontman Peter Steele’s previous band, Carnivore, Type O was a swampy, sexy mix of Black Sabbath doom riffs, Beatles melodies and The Cure meets Sisters of Mercy Goth rock. The sound would shift the landscape and make unlikely stars of arguably the greatest band to ever emerge from Brooklyn.
The build-up to Bloody Kisses included some demos kicking around the tape trading scene, followed by to their debut Slow Deep And Hard, and the second album The Origin Of The Feces. But neither of those albums really put the band on the map, other than a curiosity in the scene where they were neither truly hardcore, thrash or Goth enough for the underground in the early 1990s. In retrospect, those albums are much more loved now than they were memorable at the time of their release. But when album number three hit, it was an uncontrollable monster. Some of the factors were, just much better songs and a real coalescing of what Steele was trying to accomplish as a writer. Sinister riffs all over the place, melodic Beatles harmonies, and the great dour lyrics of Peter coming off like a magical cross between Ian Curtis and Don Rickles made every track (of full songs) stick in your brain. Although the focus was on the Pete’s charismatic personality as a frontman, the entire band were on their A-game every second. Drummer Sal Abruscato (ex-Life of Agony) came from the Bill Ward school, so he set the grooves and laid back perfectly with Steele’s bass lines. Kenny Hickey’s perfect guitar tone and occasional feedback work was the perfect foil for the emotions in these tracks. Secret weapon Keyboard player and producer Josh Silver candy-coated every cut with perfection.
Although several later versions and re-releases found more favor with the band, for all intents and purposes, the original is the version most people bought and remember today. The band also had a real deep Pink Floyd vibe with regard to sequencing and flow of the album. The intro and interludes mesh perfectly and help set up some of the more ambitions writing of the longer tracks. Naturally huge international hits like ‘Christian Woman’, ‘Black No. 1’ and their cover of Seals And Croft’s hippie love song ‘Summer Breeze’ are permanent fixtures on playlists. But the entire album is deep top to bottom. The dark, bent sense of humor and macabre delivery of Steele buoyed aggro tracks such as ‘Kill All The White People’, ‘Set Me On Fire’, ‘We Hate Everyone’, as well as ‘Bloody Kisses’, ‘Blood And Fire’, and ‘Suspended In Dusk’ are all crushing and still hold up after all this time. The album set the template for many bands to follow and showed that song craft wasn’t dead, despite the onset of lame pop-punk and other styles that were starting to pervade heavy music.
The album continued to climb high and spread worldwide for several years. From Beavis and Butthead, to movie soundtracks, to pop culture cues, Type O was really the first band from Roadrunner to gain real mainstream acceptance. Sales followed too, as Bloody Kisses was the first Gold, and later first Platinum album for the label (surpassed later by Slipknot and Nickelback). The album broke the Billboard charts two years after its release, a real feat back then, and the band was worked tirelessly at rock radio and at press by amazing publicists, and they toured a ton. They became one the of the first Ozzfest bands of that era to have as much success as some of the already established bigger bands of that time such as Pantera.
Sadly, Peter is gone, having passed away in 2010, but we still have this music, and we still have Bloody Kisses to spin on infinite repeat. A forever testament to his talent and personal style.