Groundbreakers: Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses
The entire purpose of the Groundbreakers series is to honor and revere those albums and bands that have shaped the course of heavy metal history. Type O Negative are one such band, though as my pal 365 Days of Horror pointed out in his Think Tank, tracing their heritage is a tricky process. There are no bands that play in a style that is completely derivative of Type O. As Ron Deuce put it, “Type O is one of those bands that is in a category all their own. Some band from the future will tap into it and capture the vibe. That’s the only thing I can think of.” Despite their uniqueness, Type O Negative have a tangible impact on the genre. Allow me to explain how.
Type O Negative are a distinct product of the Brooklyn environment in which they were born. The early albums would be heavily influenced by the raw, bleak humor of frontman and visionary Peter Steele’s previous crossover thrash band Carnivore. After Carnivore ended, Steele recruited childhood friends Sal Abruscato, Josh Silver, and Kenny Hickey to play alongside him in a new band that would be reflective of his work in Carnivore and the native, Gothic Grandeur of New York, but in a wildly different style. The end result was Slow Deep and Hard, a torturous, although somewhat comical, exercise in lavish doom with a distinctly New York sense of style and humor. The band certainly began to hit their signature sound with this debut, but it wasn’t until the band’s second proper full-length (Origin of the Feces is technically a live album) that Steele would fully incorporate his punk influences and bring the band’s sound to its perfect form.
Bloody Kisses is a unique album. Introduction and interlude tracks not withstanding, the songs themselves vary wildly from retro-psychedelia to hardcore punk to romantic ballads to somber doom. Typically speaking, metal bands that attempt to incorporate such diverse sounds fall flat because they are never able to establish their own sonic identities. This was not the case with Type O Negative. Though the songs on Bloody Kisses range drastically from short to long, fast to slow, somber to jovial, they are all bound together through two signature elements: Peter Steele’s domineering voice and tongue-in-cheek humor. Whether discussing the band’s incendiary political leanings in a satirical, punky polemic (“We Hate Everyone”, “Kill All the White People”) to expounding on the trials and tribulations of dating a mall goth unable to leave her house because her non-black hair roots are showing (“Black No. 1”), Steele’s deep, sonorous voice injects every line with equal parts emotion and humor.
No other album in the band’s discography would achieve the perfect balance of elements found on Bloody Kisses. October Rust would lean too far into the melodic romanticism, forsaking some of the harder punk edge and heaviness in the process. World Coming Down, driven by Steele’s deep (and understandable) feelings of loss and remorse, would veer back toward the dirge-like vibe of Slow Deep and Hard but without the tongue-and-cheek self-awareness that made songs like “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family)” on Bloody Kisses both sad and infectious. Life Is Killing Me would recapture some of the humor but lacked the energy of previous efforts. Only Dead Again really comes close to Bloody Kisses, but even it lacks some of the alluring romance and mystery of today’s Groundbreakers entry.
Put simply, Type O Negative created a perfect album with Bloody Kisses, and every other album in the band’s discography acts as a bit of an exploration into one of the many elements contained on their second release. Perhaps it is this unique blend of heaviness with catchiness, dour affection with comedic spite, and roughness with polish that is the reason no other band has been able to mimic the unique sound of Type O Negative. Yes, there are some acts that have capitalized on one or two of these elements. Woods of Ypres were able to embellish some of the Gothic thoughtfulness found in the Type O sound. Rammstein frequently employs the same type of glib personality Peter Steele delivered so well. Even the heavy low-end rumblings so characteristic of Steele’s bass-playing can be found in modern doom bands like Pallbearer. However, no one one else has been able to conjure the same perfect alchemy that forged Bloody Kisses.
Therein lies the reason this album should always be considered a Groundbreaker. It was so wholly unique that its constituent parts have each inspired any number of modern artists without ever being replicated. I imagine that bands will continue to find inspiration from Type O Negative, mining out some new element to replicate and incorporate into a new offshoot. Perhaps the wealth of creativity and genius on this album will never run dry. Just look at the band’s fan base. If fans of black metal, death metal, doom, punk, goth metal, and thrash metal can all agree that Type O Negative rules, it seems obvious Bloody Kisses will continue to loom large and inspire future metalheads.
For creating the perfect blend of diverse components, each of which inspired later acts for entirely different reasons, I am proud to induct Type O Negative’s Bloody Kisses into the Toilet of Hell Groundbreakers Hall of Fame.
Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.
Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory – Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology
Today is the Day – Temple of the Morning Star
Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed
Acid Bath – When the Kite String Pops
Ministry – The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
Vulcano – Bloody Vengeance
Sleep – Holy Mountain
Kreator – Pleasure to Kill
Kayo Dot – Choirs of the eye
Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning