Archive

type o negative

For a birthday Goat who should have been here, but alas, is not!

It’s always a bit startling when your contemporaries suddenly die. When it happens at a time when you know it’s not the drugs, the booze or whatever else kills them these days and it happens to someone who has loomed so large in your own imagination and in your musical Multiverse, it’s, welll…devastating.

This was my state of mind when my daily fix of snark – also known as Blabbermouth – delivered the news that Peter Steele of Type O Negative had passed away aged 48 on April 14th, 2010. That was also the only day in my entire life where I cried on a bus over the death of a near-stranger…except…he wasn’t.

No band was more important in my world, no voice mattered more (except the usual dead suspects), and no one was more of an inspiration – not so much in his person (I met him twice), but in the music he created with his bands. Without Type O Negative, I would never have begun to write.

And without Peter, I would never have created one character in Quantum Demonology, Saint Peter the former Polish alchemist, whose introduction was this immortal line, said to the Devil at the Chelsea Hotel one early December morning:

“Pay up, asshole. You lost the bet.”

I was in a quandary that day. Because in the chapter I was writing that day, it was April 29th and he was very much alive, and also…immortal.

I decided to plow on regardless. So Saint Peter went on as a friend and a gatekeeper for my female Faust, and lived, so far as I know, happily ever after in Flatbush with a redheaded Norse Goddess…

Long before I ever met/created Saint Peter, who sprang fully fledged off the page and then refused to leave, I wrote about the real deal in several places. Below are the best…

Ode for a Birthday Goat

Halloween in Heaven

and the one it broke my heart to write:

The Day My…

Today would have been/should have been his fiftieth birthday. Alas, it was not to be. But so long as one person remembers you, you are…immortal.

Today, millions of us will make sure he truly is!

He even had the grace to leave his music behind.

Happy (late) birthday, Peter. I do hope you’re showing all those other long-gone Primeval Forces how it’s done…in whatever Heaven you happen to be in!

Advertisements

***NOTE: This was posted on a fateful day, April 14th 2010, when songwriter, bassist and singer Peter Steele of Type O Negative passed away at the age of 48. No other performer had such an impact on my own personal life, and no other band has ever been quite such an obsession as Type O Negative. For one, that music made me write – which I still do! I’ve written other tributes to Type O as well as Peter Steele on MoltenMetalMama: Halloween in Heaven, Ode For A Birthday Goat, and quite possibly the most craptacular album review ever written, called The Aural Anaconda. But more than anything, he became the inspiration for one important character in my novel ‘Quantum Demonology’, where he lives on – and so I hope, always will. I’m grateful,that some people cast such long shadows, that we still have a lot left long after they’re gone. But he will always be missed. ***

There I was, a sunny Thursday afternoon in April – today, actually – doing my utmost to avoid anything resembling what I was supposed to be doing, which was working on my online portfolio. So, furthering the avoidance actions of Weboholics everywhere, I did what I always do when I don’t want to do what I’m doing.

I went to Blabbermouth to see if I could find anything to piss me off. And I didn’t find it. I found something else so shocking, so upsetting, so effing outrageous, I couldn’t even get pissed off about it.

Not good.

But there it was, in black on gray electronic letters. Peter Steele, lead singer and songwriter/founder of Fallout, Carnivore and Type O Negative, possibly the largest and certainly the longest lasting musical obsession I’ve ever had in my life, passed away some time yesterday, aged 48. Forty-eight!

What started as a rumor very early this morning CET via Twitter, began gaining legs and growing and growing. By this afternoon, there was confirmation from keyboardist Josh Silver, and tributes were crawling out of the woodwork of musicians, journalists and bloggers everywhere.

It can’t be true. But this time, unlike in 2005 when the band pulled a similar stunt (a hoax, as it turned out), many of us had the oh-so sinking feeling that it is – true.

I’m trying to accept it, and I can’t. Here’s another one of those Defining Moments in Music – Where were you when…John Lennon was shot, Kurt Cobain died, Layne Staley, and now…Peter Steele.

But why does it have to be when they died?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was working as a graphic artist for a Copenhagen cultural institution known as Huset. At Huset, my best friend was the secretary for the Huset booking office, a compleat metalhead with a sharp eye on The Next Big Thing. This day of all days, she was trying to persuade my pregnant self to come to a concert at Barbue that night. “I KNOW you don’t like thrash, I KNOW you hate too much…same old…same old, but THESE guys – are not LIKE that. You’ll dig it, really!”

Huset was and is a rabbit warren of hallways, stairs, sloping ceilings and other hazards to your sense of direction. Later that afternoon, I went in search of coffee. About twenty feet from my office, I walked – literally – right into a Moving Obstacle. Which was about as much as I saw, before I looked up. And up. And..Geezuz fuck, who the HELL was this, this – titanic hunk of testosterone bomb?

It was a very apologetic, scrupulously polite Peter Steele, who had got lost on his way to the Barbue green room and somehow ended up banging his head on the 18th-century beams of the hallway just outside my office. He kept apologizing, poor man, all the way back to the green room and I kept laughing it off.

My friend prevailed. Later that night, I showed up, looking only slightly improved. This time, I was prepared for the impact. I walked up and introduced myself properly, in my native American English:

“Dude! Do ya know, I could have a raging affair – with your navel!”

To his everlasting credit, he laughed, and so did the rest of the band, while I was busy trying to find a small and dark corner in which to hide my own mortification. In person, he had an alarming – and disarming amount of charm, even towards idiot midget half-Danes from the land of tall blondes. Of course, I was a redhead then, and that must have helped.

It was a show not like many others I had seen, just as Type O Negative was a band unlike any other. Beatles-meets-Black Sabbath-meets-gothadelic-hippie-punk-metal-with-a-sense-of-humor-so-black-you-had-to-wear-shades. But even then, even as I filched the office copy of “Bloody Kisses” one day no one was looking, I didn’t entirely…get that voice yet. The time wasn’t right, or my headspace wasn’t until a few years later, I walked into a record store as if pushed by some invisible demon and asked for “October Rust”.

I went home, I put it on, I turned up my amp and then…about three minutes into “Love You To Death”, my brain literally – blew up. I was in the grip of emotions I didn’t understand and had never known before, I was attacked by something I couldn’t even articulate, it was – that powerful. And it was a combination of music so achingly beautiful, produced to luscious aural perfection, and That Voice – asking the question that blew my brain to smithereens: “Am I good enough for you?” The very idea, that someone could sing that, that someone like Peter Steele could sing that so earnestly – that’s what hit my detonator.

Because this was that Band In My Head (if I had that kind of talent, which I don’t), and here was that Voice In The Dark, the guy my Mom would have warned me against, a hopeless, hapless heartfelt romantic who pushed buttons I never even knew I wanted pushed – and bad. “October Rust” guided me through a very nasty breakup, through my discovery that that writing thang was some kind of (bad) idea, through ups and downs and out of controls. To this day – it the only CD out of my entire collection I have had to replace – three times.

I saw them live, a year or so later, I faithfully bought all their CDs on the release dates, and always, the Baritone That Did Me In did strange and wonderful and weird and unspeakable things to my head, things that can’t be mentioned in daylight.

Carnivore’s “Male Supremacy” became the litmus test for potential boyfriends – only a very healthy sense of irony need apply. His voice became such an extended part of me it was a question of “love me-love my favorite band” or else – forget it.

His voice was a voice that followed me through writing The Effing Book (three times), through everything that gave me the written voice I have today, and even into my latest misbegotten project, so much, I took his physical characteristics and gave them to “Saint Peter” in my story, one of the Good Guys. Today, I’m wondering how I’m going to get myself out of that pickle, because Saint Peter is very much alive on April 28th, at least in my story.

But today, on April 15th in the real world is the day my iPod cries. I didn’t know Peter Steele as a person, I don’t have the right to mourn him on that level, but I have the right to pay homage to a musician, a composer and a singer that exploded my head and stole my heart – and never, ever gave it back!

For that alone, a simple “thank you” is never enough.

So these pathetic words will have to do!

Goodbye, Saint Peter. You will be missed by millions, and mourned by them all, but you never entirely left, did you?

You left That Voice behind, and the music with it. Thank you for that, too.

Add to Technorati Favorites

blogarama - the blog directory


Prompted by Pawl Basile’s ‘Living the American Nightmare’ – because every day is Halloween!

A very, very long time ago, I sold my soul. Not to the Devil, at least not until later, but to the one thing above all others that I live for and live with and live on and live off.

I sold my soul to rock’n’roll.

In my world, rock’n’roll – however you choose to define it, or whatever genre you choose to define it with – is any of the music that I love. And by extension, any of the performers who create it, sing it, make it breathe and take on a life of its own – the performers who then pass it on to you and become a voice for all you could never articulate half so well or so heartfelt.

Because that’s what it comes down to, people – a voice. The voice that roars in your dark, the voice that haunts your dreams and aspirations, the voice that pushes that one button you never even knew you had, hits that one soft, vulnerable spot in your subconscious bedrock that makes your head explode and ensures that your mind, your outlook, your entire life philosophy will never, ever be the same again.

In my own Faustian parody/rock’n’roll novel-in-progress, ‘Quantum Demonology’, my protagonist has a name for those – she calls them Primeval Forces of the Universe, related to the four universal laws of physics, because to her, to me, and to the legions out there just like us, that’s how important they are.

Put a gun to my head and ask me to name my own, and the first name on that Greatest Hits list, no question, is Peter Steele of Type O Negative.

He first came to my attention back in 1987, when a small review for Carnivore’s ‘Retaliation’ in the music section of Playboy magazine caught my eye, and some time later, a song called ‘Male Supremacy’ caught my ear. I had never in my life heard anything like it, never heard any lyrics quite like it, and forever after, it became a litmus test for any hopeful testosterone bomb hoping to stick around. If they got it, if they understood that unique brand of sarcasm, they might get a repeat, and if not – sayonara, sunshine!

But it wasn’t until Carnivore evolved into the beast that was Type O Negative that my interest became all-out obsession. And I do mean – obsessed. No other band in my life has had such an impact, and no other CDs have had to be so frequently replaced – four times in the case of their 1996 album, ‘October Rust’. Simply because I can’t imagine life without them. Simply because they sounded like no other band on Planet Earth. Simply because I can mention very few other bands I can listen to and hear something new – on the 217th play.

On April 14th this year, Peter died of heart failure aged 48. Two days later, on a humdrum city bus, I was accidentally listening to ‘Bloody Kisses’ for some sick, demented reason, and suddenly, without warning, made a complete public spectacle of myself by bawling like a baby over the death of someone I barely knew and had met on only two occasions. But I knew that voice, I knew that diehard, damn-them-all hopeless romanticism, I knew the music we would lose, and above all else, I knew just what kind of musician, what kind of songwriter the world had lost. One strange lady I never knew came up to me and asked what had happened. I told her, with no small sense of irony, that there had been a death in the family. Because in the world I live in, there had.

I’ve written loads about Type O Negative. My first ever craptacular album review, called ‘The Aural Anaconda’, playlists and a birthday ode and even an elegy written by my soggy Kleenex as soon as I got off that city bus. That unholy Brooklyn quartet got me writing, and I haven’t stopped since, as anyone who reads this blog can tell.

Even today, I’m still writing about him, but quite possibly not in a manner anyone expected. Saint Peter, in ‘Quantum Demonology’, is a Polish alchemist – with a few twists up his sleeve.

Today is Halloween. Today, just as the man wrote on the 2007 album ‘Dead Again’, it’s Halloween in Heaven, with Peter playing bass and John Bonham on drums and Hendrix on guitar in one helluva jam.

Today, just like all the days that bass-baritone sneaks into my iPod, I’ll be listening to Saint Peter. And below, a few showcases to illustrate just what kind of talent we’ve lost, and just how much he’s missed. (All links to the official YouTube videos, but unfortunately, embedding them into this blog has been disabled, with the exception of the last)

Because, dude – you said it yourself:

Every day is Halloween!

And you are missed – every day.

Christian Woman

Black No. 1

Love You To Death

Everything Dies

September Sun

Image: SPV

Add to Technorati Favorites

blogarama - the blog directory


There I was, a sunny Thursday afternoon in April – today, actually – doing my utmost to avoid anything resembling what I was supposed to be doing, which was working on my online portfolio. So, furthering the avoidance actions of Weboholics everywhere, I did what I always do when I don’t want to do what I’m doing.

I went to Blabbermouth to see if I could find anything to piss me off. And I didn’t find it. I found something else so shocking, so upsetting, so effing outrageous, I couldn’t even get pissed off about it.

Not good.

But there it was, in black on gray electronic letters. Peter Steele, lead singer and songwriter/founder of Fallout, Carnivore and Type O Negative, possibly the largest and certainly the longest lasting musical obsession I’ve ever had in my life, passed away some time yesterday, aged 48. Forty-eight!

What started as a rumor very early this morning CET via Twitter, began gaining legs and growing and growing. By this afternoon, there was confirmation from keyboardist Josh Silver, and tributes were crawling out of the woodwork of musicians, journalists and bloggers everywhere.

It can’t be true. But this time, unlike in 2005 when the band pulled a similar stunt (a hoax, as it turned out), many of us had the oh-so sinking feeling that it is – true.

I’m trying to accept it, and I can’t. Here’s another one of those Defining Moments in Music – Where were you when…John Lennon was shot, Kurt Cobain died, Layne Staley, and now…Peter Steele.

But why does it have to be when they died?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was working as a graphic artist for a Copenhagen cultural institution known as Huset. At Huset, my best friend was the secretary for the Huset booking office, a compleat metalhead with a sharp eye on The Next Big Thing. This day of all days, she was trying to persuade my pregnant self to come to a concert at Barbue that night. “I KNOW you don’t like thrash, I KNOW you hate too much…same old…same old, but THESE guys – are not LIKE that. You’ll dig it, really!”

Huset was and is a rabbit warren of hallways, stairs, sloping ceilings and other hazards to your sense of direction. Later that afternoon, I went in search of coffee. About twenty feet from my office, I walked – literally – right into a Moving Obstacle. Which was about as much as I saw, before I looked up. And up. And..Geezuz fuck, who the HELL was this, this – titanic hunk of testosterone bomb?

It was a very apologetic, scrupulously polite Peter Steele, who had got lost on his way to the Barbue green room and somehow ended up banging his head on the 18th-century beams of the hallway just outside my office. He kept apologizing, poor man, all the way back to the green room and I kept laughing it off.

My friend prevailed. Later that night, I showed up, looking only slightly improved. This time, I was prepared for the impact. I walked up and introduced myself properly, in my native American English:

“Dude! Do ya know, I could have a raging affair – with your navel!”

To his everlasting credit, he laughed, and so did the rest of the band, while I was busy trying to find a small and dark corner in which to hide my own mortification. In person, he had an alarming – and disarming amount of charm, even towards idiot midget half-Danes from the land of tall blondes. Of course, I was a redhead then, and that must have helped.

It was a show not like many others I had seen, just as Type O Negative was a band unlike any other. Beatles-meets-Black Sabbath-meets-gothadelic-hippie-punk-metal-with-a-sense-of-humor-so-black-you-had-to-wear-shades. But even then, even as I filched the office copy of “Bloody Kisses” one day no one was looking, I didn’t entirely…get that voice yet. The time wasn’t right, or my headspace wasn’t until a few years later, I walked into a record store as if pushed by some invisible demon and asked for “October Rust”.

I went home, I put it on, I turned up my amp and then…about three minutes into “Love You To Death”, my brain literally – blew up. I was in the grip of emotions I didn’t understand and had never known before, I was attacked by something I couldn’t even articulate, it was – that powerful. And it was a combination of music so achingly beautiful, produced to luscious aural perfection, and That Voice – asking the question that blew my brain to smithereens: “Am I good enough for you?” The very idea, that someone could sing that, that someone like Peter Steele could sing that so earnestly – that’s what hit my detonator.

Because this was that Band In My Head (if I had that kind of talent, which I don’t), and here was that Voice In The Dark, the guy my Mom would have warned me against, a hopeless, hapless heartfelt romantic who pushed buttons I never even knew I wanted pushed – and bad. “October Rust” guided me through a very nasty breakup, through my discovery that that writing thang was some kind of (bad) idea, through ups and downs and out of controls. To this day – it the only CD out of my entire collection I have had to replace – three times.

I saw them live, a year or so later, I faithfully bought all their CDs on the release dates, and always, the Baritone That Did Me In did strange and wonderful and weird and unspeakable things to my head, things that can’t be mentioned in daylight.

Carnivore’s “Male Supremacy” became the litmus test for potential boyfriends – only a very healthy sense of irony need apply. His voice became such an extended part of me it was a question of “love me-love my favorite band” or else – forget it.

His voice was a voice that followed me through writing The Effing Book (three times), through everything that gave me the written voice I have today, and even into my latest misbegotten project, so much, I took his physical characteristics and gave them to “Saint Peter” in my story, one of the Good Guys. Today, I’m wondering how I’m going to get myself out of that pickle, because Saint Peter is very much alive on April 28th, at least in my story.

But today, on April 15th in the real world is the day my iPod cries. I didn’t know Peter Steele as a person, I don’t have the right to mourn him on that level, but I have the right to pay homage to a musician, a composer and a singer that exploded my head and stole my heart – and never, ever gave it back!

For that alone, a simple “thank you” is never enough.

So these pathetic words will have to do!

Goodbye, Saint Peter. You will be missed by millions, and mourned by them all, but you never entirely left, did you?

You left That Voice behind, and the music with it. Thank you for that, too.

Add to Technorati Favorites

blogarama - the blog directory

Today, my friend, life will suck. Your mortality will come crashing down upon you like so many lead bricks, and it will hit you, later if not sooner, that today is yet more proof that life really is killing you, slowly and by degrees. For today is your birthday, and I’m sure you know that birthdays, at our age, are severely overrated. Worst of all, I rather doubt anyone will let you just ignore the whole thing to let you slink off to a remote corner and try to forget about it until tomorrow, when it no longer is – your birthday.

On the other hand – come on. Get out. Be adored for the day. So many of us do adore you, and we have for a very long time, in spite of everything you’ve put us through. I have been more faithful to you than to some of the guys in my life, and for at least one of them, it was very much a question of “love me, love the band.” If they didn’t, or couldn’t – I wouldn’t. That was it, the ultimate litmus test. One of two, in fact. The other one was subjecting them to the many splendors of Carnivore’s “Male Supremacy”, and if the irony sailed straight over their heads – forget it. Brains over brawn every time. But should I find both – um, never mind. That would be right around where you came in and chronically infested some secret, dark and thoroughly dank corners of my subterranean mind, and where I’ve found you faithlessly lurking ever since.

Speaking of irony, that has to be one of your defining characteristics, as both a songwriter and a performer. I really can’t think of that many other rock icons (I use that term advisedly and at my peril, in your case) who have crawled up on the pedestal of their own creation, just because it comes with the territory and it’s the done thing to do. That’s not the issue. No, you’re the only one I can think of who has gleefully undermined the whole imposing Baroque edifice with your highly idiosyncratic brand of TNT. So – there you are. “Look up at me, you lesser midgets” you seem to say, “and see my despair. Go ahead. Take it seriously or literally. Because I sure as hell don’t!”

What some of us lesser midgets also see is your hand on the remote control that fully intends to blow it all up, any day now.

On the subject of explosives, many performers have made my head explode. Joy Division, The Doors, Nick Cave, the first time I heard the Cocteau Twins, Pantera, Samhain -it makes for a long list. I can’t, no matter how hard I try and believe me, I have tried, think of anyone else who has forced me to scrape off the pathetic gray matter I call my brain off my speakers or my headphones for going on 16 years.

Not too long after the release of “Bloody Kisses”, you came to Copenhagen along with the rest of Type O Negative, to play one exceedingly hip little venue called Barbue. A girlfriend of mine, who had tried to get me interested in any number of “soon to be underground monsters” bands, got down and begged me to be there for this one. It would be free, since we both worked there, and it would be, she promised, “more music and less dystopia, I promise!” Then, she gave me a very sly look. “Just wait until you see the lead singer!”

Sure. I was pregnant at the time, and I figured I would be immune. I’d met a lot of dudes in the underground music bizz, and I was mostly rather underwhelmed.

Some time later, the day Type O arrived, I went looking for my late-afternoon caffeine fix. When I made my way through the rabbit warren that was Huset, where Barbue was located, back to my own little cubbyhole of an office, one very lost and exceedingly polite giant was wandering the back floors in search of the green room.

That would have been you. I took you back to the rest of the band, went home to clean up, and arrived later that night. My girlfriend dragged me off and introduced me.

I remember that. I remember being so gobsmacked by my own awe over you I said the first thing that popped into my head, never a good thing.

“Dude! Do you know – I could have a raging affair – with your navel!”

That’s charisma for you. Yours, not mine.

As introductions go, it could be worse. At least it made you laugh.

But even then, I wasn’t entirely ready yet. That came much pain, four years and many tears later, when I bought “October Rust” on impulse and my head really did explode, and kept on exploding, more or less on a daily basis ever since.

I have written a novel, several short stories and even a blog to that velvet barbed-wire voice of yours. I’ve pestered every single female I know with it (it’s one of the few things we agree on). Both of your bands, your voice and your music have been the soundtrack to just about every major event in my life for longer than I care to remember.

Thank you.

Thank you for knowing how to enunciate properly. Thank you for all the pleasures you’ve brought me, both guilty and not.

Thank you for never singing the musical equivalent of the Brooklyn phone book, because that would really do me in.

And since it’s your birthday, and one is supposed to be nice to birthday boys, I’ll even thank you for taking up permanent residence in that dark and dank limbic-area basement of mine, because damn it, you’ve been there ever since and probably caused irreparable damage by now.

I don’t care. It’s all rock and roll to me.

Once, I came across the following lines, and immediately thought of you:

” Ran on embattled armies clad in iron,
And, weaponless himself,
Made arms ridiculous”

I hope it will be a while before you get to thank John Milton in person.

Have a rock’n’roll birthday, Peter Steele. Mortality sucks, I know.

But at least you get to sing about it!

Originally posted as a “review” – of sorts – on an online writing community. Part rant, part rhetoric – and all heart!

The Aural Anaconda

-a review of ”Bloody Kisses”

It’s time…for a change. It’s time to get my head either out of my ass or out of Roman Britain, or just plain…out, somewhere – elsewhere, or else wear out what’s left of my synapses. They’ve been buried, unfortunately not fatally, in dense archaeological tomes of academe. A woman can only take so many Sub-strata B earthworks variations (early first to third-century CE), before having an overwhelming urge to cause a good few third millennium earthquakes of her own.

To that end, I take a deep breath in front of my CD collection. I shall pretend that I have never heard the contents of any of these glossy acrylic cases before. This will not be hard to do. I shall shut off my superego at its main power supply and up the volume on my id, who is only too happy to oblige. Any excuse, right? So, deep breath. Close eyes. Trail fingers over cases. Back and forth several times and…there! A snag, a slight tug and pull, and out comes…

“Bloody Kisses”, by Type O Negative.

Wow. This should be fun. A lesbian love fest is in full swing on the cover, and I haven’t even put in the CD yet! Damn it, I wasn’t even invited! My id is already happy-dancing. My inner six-year-old wiener wants to know where their hands are, but the outer 44-year-old takes one look at those faces and – knows.

On the back, four funereal dudes are wondering why they’ve been caught grave-robbing, but then, I happen to blink, and there he is, Poe’s poison-green Imp of the Perverse, jumping on a tombstone and somersaulting out over the trees decked out in winter drab. I blink again, and he’s gone, but I saw him, I swear I did. The underpaid morticians on the back cover never noticed. They’re checking out the real estate, thinking “development opportunity”.

I have been warned. This is, in other words, to be taken at face value – at my peril.

Few opening tracks in the history of music recording have been so aptly named as “Machine Screw”. The title alone says it all, and whatever’s left over will clear any earwax your Q-Tips might have missed. Be careful, though. Prolonged exposure might take your brain with it.

Just before my disappointment reaches epic levels, an eerie, creepy keyboard line insinuates itself into my now immaculate auricles and I’m well away, borne on a twisting sinuous tide into “Christian Woman”, and…Holy Catechism! I totally get it! It’s Bernini’s “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa” in music.

Now, this is a statue that has been known to make even hardened Catholics smirk. They nod, they walk around this epic poem in marble in awe, and then – they smirk. Religious ecstasy, sure it is. Her toes are furling, her fingers curling, and as for that expression on her face, well! Obviously, those smirks seem to say, religious ecstasy has something to recommend it, doesn’t it? One and a half billion Catholics can’t be wrong. This statue is what all those millions of Catholic women are hoping for.

Evidently, these women have never read Origen, Tertullian or St. Augustine. Maybe they should listen to this.

If first impressions are important, then one of the first things you are going to notice is that Peter Steele can sing. Love it or loathe it, you can’t get around it. By donning a black-clad, neo-Goth Orpheus persona, his voice also has a strange effect on just about every female I’ve ever introduced to the band. All male rock’n’roll singers are testaments of testosterone, one way or another. Put a guy with an attitude in front of a microphone stand and a band, and he becomes a singing, breathing projection screen for every female fantasy a woman can throw at it. By welding his bleeding heart right out in the open onto his cast-iron shirtsleeve, Steele just might have an edge on all those other guys, who would never dare. His voice has been slaying ladies in the aisles and everywhere else ever since.
So, for the sake of argument and my fragile sanity, he shall hereafter be referred to as That Voice. It’s a voice that can and all too often does most peculiar things to women in particular, making them do things like lose all reason, buy CDs, black corsets, Type O concert tickets…Trust me. I’ve introduced every girlfriend I have to that voice, and the same thing inevitably happens. They really, truly lose it. They seriously discuss the virtues of Catholicism. They develop an insatiable craving for black Valenciennes lace. You’ve heard of those voices who could read phone books and you’d swoon, but this is ridiculous. It spans a range in one song that goes from upper baritone to basso profundo, which is nearly as low as a human being’s vocal chords can go. The only thing That Guy has to do is…breathe, and there we stupid susceptible, suggestible females would be, “before him begging to serve or please, on our backs or knees”. Oh, yes, we would. Not in a New York minute, but a Brooklyn second!
And right before we feckless females are about to enter St. Theresa mode, borne off on a relentless tide of musical bliss both harrowing and sublime – the arrow! The arrow – please, right this effing second, I am so…ready! – comes the punch line, carried by a raunchy, leering guitar and a hard beat, and the imp comes out again. “Jesus Christ looks like me!” Well, blow my mind! Here I thought he’d be a swarthy, hirsute Levantine! Silly me. When I should have been looking for a nice Brooklyn boy of Northern European extraction. Catholic, of course. A godless Lutheran could never have written this.

Then, a riff of the Munsters theme brings me back to Earth, sort of, and an ominous growl pronounces: “I went looking for trouble. And boy, I found her…” “Black no. 1” is a brilliant satire of that nemesis you used to hate, back when Goth was cool the first time around, back when Ian Curtis was a (recently dead) genius and I wanted to marry Robert Smith when I grew up. If he wasn’t available, then Andrew Eldritch would do. Ian Astbury, in a pinch. Indulge my severe fit of nostalgia for a moment. In those days, I did my level best to exude my own unique brand of 5’2” fabulousness. Black wardrobe? Check. Snow-white tan? Check. Too much makeup? Check. A haunting telltale trail of Eau de Sarcophage? Caron’s “Narcisse Noir”, purloined from my mother, who never did forgive me. Prerequisite over-sized boyfriend? Double-check. I had two at the same time – one 6’4” Henry Miller look-alike, one 6’8” curly-haired grizzly bear. We scavenged our wardrobes and our furniture from the Soviet Army “surplus store” dumpster-diving outside the Soviet Embassy in Copenhagen at 3 AM. And meanwhile, right when I really thought I was too cool and too Goth for pre-20th-century words, there was another girl, who somehow managed to be several degrees more sepulchral than even I could manage. She was tall, she was thin, she was lethally gorgeous, and I hated her on sight. We all did. This song was written for her, I swear on my first edition of “Fleurs du Mal”. This is what happened when the Christian Woman gave up holy orders, decided that the Jesus Christ-a-like from Brooklyn wasn’t satanic enough for her, and dumped him. He went looking for revenge – and boy, he found it! If only all revenge was this hilarious. “Loving you was like loving the dead.” One thing none of my former boyfriends ever complained about.

Before I’m completely carried away by a tidal wave of nostalgia, a tribal chant marks the return of the Imp, and the second practical joke of this album, “Fay Wray Come Out and Play”. Please, Fay, do. King Kong is waiting, and the natives are…restless. So is King Kong. And you look so beautiful when you scream.

Are you dying for a chance to stomp the imbedded cat fleas in your carpet into submission? Do you want them to beg for mercy on their tiny knees and make you swear on your old copies of Green Egg that you will never do that again? Would that be too cruel for your eco-friendly sensitivities? Then, practical joke number three is not for you.

If, however, you don’t give a flying about those poor dying fleas in your fifth-hand rug, and you can be found in your off moments playing air guitar with a hairbrush in your skivvies to Pantera (guilty!), then “Kill All the White People” is for you. Try headbanging to this with the nearest available three-year-old, and he will, if he knows what’s good for him, love you forever for it. He might even join you. He won’t get the joke, but you will. If, on the other hand, you don’t, then you don’t deserve this album. May I commiserate. Not.

A very long time ago, there was such a thing as eight-track cassettes. A.M. radio was huge, because that’s where all the hits of the time were played. One cheesy bit of dandelion fluff was a monster hit on A.M. radio in those days. It was called “Summer Breeze”, by Seals and Croft. I lived through those days, and I remember the song well. Catchy. Cheesy. More or less instantly forgettable, even with hippy-dippy harmonics. Not likely to be induced into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame anytime soon.
Try to get this particular version of it out of your brain, and you are in mortal danger of never hearing it any other way again. Ever. All D-tuned strings, distortion, doom-laden drums, keyboards proclaiming the coming Apocalypse and vocals by Beelzebub, giving a throwaway hit some sinister, serial-killer punch it certainly never had before and likely will never have again. You can just see Ted Bundy, coming through the door and across the floor, wielding a bloody axe to this, blowing through the jasmine in his mind. My awfully wedded shall never forgive me for playing this version for him and ruining the original forever. Not to mention screwing up his happy childhood memories. This is evil, evil genius.

Right before a fatal descent into the maelstrom, you are brought back from the brink by “Set me on Fire” and a bright burst of keyboard masquerading as cathedral Bach, where the Dybbuk-in-Disguise has ditched the Devil, left the building and headed straight for the choir of Silly Seraphim. It’s the perfect antidote for serial killer schmaltz, if only because this song – with lyrics consisting of seven words – goes on for over three minutes, and lo and behold!, you can even dance to it. It is bouncy and silly and stupid and beautiful all in one, and if it can make a nearly middle-aged woman feel all of 16 at 9 AM on a dreary rain-soaked Tuesday, then it can’t possibly be bad.

This is an album recorded by four incorrigible practical jokers, and the Imp makes yet another appearance, before I self-asphyxiate in warm, fuzzy 16-year-old thoughts. First, we have “Dark Side of the Womb”, and I can’t quite decide if this is what really happens to Rosemary’s Baby once the camera stopped rolling, or if this is what I wanted to happen three years ago when I gave birth to Damien, the Sequel. The blood of a newborn child. Oh, the possibilities!

There’s more flea murder and dust-bunny decimation to come in “We Hate Everyone”. In fact, it might be fair to say that it takes hardcore to a whole new level. My downstairs neighbors never breathed a word of complaint over Pantera. But they complained about this one, and they have a point. Even the jaded three-year-old didn’t like it much. As a motivational track for housecleaning however, this has its uses. It even beats my perennial favorite the Sex Pistols into shame. My toilet bowl underwent a cathartic experience from which it has never quite recovered. Methinks, however, the gentlemen doth complain a tad too much.

I have days like that, too. It’s called PMS. At least I have that excuse.

From extending a middle finger to the rest of the world to bombastic blood-chilling…suicide? We’re back in penny dreadful novel territory with “Bloody Kisses” (A Death in the Family). I don’t mean that in a bad way. The band throws every single death-and-despair cliché at the unsuspecting listener, and then milks all of them dry for all they’re worth. Ah, this is heart-breakingly depressing. And heart-stopping beautiful. I award it five Victorian mourning hankies. I may cry. You’ll have to excuse me. I have to swoon now. Ah, they’re dead! Alas, they’re dead! And now I have no hankies left to mop up those salty tears. Just loosen my stays. Or else I’ll have to swoon again. All that wailbone is killing me.

By now, I think I’m suffering from a mild case of musically induced schizophrenic personality disorder. “Too Late/Frozen” begins with a screw-up intro, someone calling “Fourths, dude!”, then…we’re back on familiar ground here. Or are we?
What’s really disturbing is the way the opening piece reminds me of a catchy early-Seventies commercial jingle. “It’s too la-a-a-a-a-ate!” coos the chorus like blissed-out pigeons on Prozac, and suddenly I catch myself thinking that chorus would be perfect for a car commercial. Just have them sing “Chev-ro-le-e-e-e-et!”
“So you call to say you’re very sorry/Won’t happen again – forgive me?/Time will not heal these wounds/And I’m bleeding/Because of you” croons That Guy again, and within seconds, this hapless female has forgiven him not just that Beelzebub impersonation, but – everything! Only to be dropped off a cliff at a vertiginous height, and the only way to go is…down and down and down.
You’ve heard of raining on someone’s parade. This is the equivalent of a monsoon downpour on the Fourth of July. What I really love/hate/loathe/adore is that I’ve woken up at 4 AM with this song on constant replay in my head. So catchy, it’s driving me crazy, and I already have plenty of reasons to be lured over the brink, thanks. There should be a health warning on this CD. “Listening to this will be hazardous to your health.”

More hazard lurks ahead in “Blood and Fire”. One-two-three-four, here we go again. “No more nights of blood and fire/with no warning/you were gone/And I still don’t know what went wrong” warbles the black-clad Orpheus with all the heartfelt sincerity of the thoroughly beaten dog you’re convinced he is, and like any human hound who ever lived, breathed and wagged his tail alluringly, he goes on…”You don’t know what I’ve been through/Just want to put my love in yo-ooooooo-o-ooooooooou”.

Uh huh. Sure you do. That’s where the trouble starts, right? Exit sanity, enter libido, begin heartache. And other aches and itches and twitches for which all guys think they know the cure. And they wonder why we leave.

Sanity, man. We just can’t handle all that rock hard love. It does weird and eerie things to our heads. And other susceptible parts of our delicate feminine anatomy.

Right when I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’m at least semi-sane again, the final coup-de-grace. “Can’t Lose You” should be recommended by the New York Psychiatric Association as aural therapy for libidinally impaired females. Or indeed any females who think they’ve lost their primeval urge and have only menopause to look forward to.
Ladies, listen to this. I dare you. One long, meandering, near-instrumental croon with a sitar, yupp, the Ravi Shankar inciting variety that is the nearest thing to aural sex I’ve ever heard. Somewhere between the sitar, the guitar and oh, geez, that, ahem, Effing Voice again, I’ve totally and utterly lost it. Thankfully, I’m married, which means a dick is never too far away.

This album is a mess. It’s not hard to guess the influences here. Take vintage Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple and a whole army of butt-rock bands large and small, add a healthy dose of the Beatles, along with generous sprinklings of lesser-known bands like the Cocteau Twins, Lush, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, and put them all in a blender. Whatever you do, don’t forget a good, few economy-sized wallops of classic punk and molten-lead metal. Now, add a liberal sense of twisted humor, an amazing keyboard player who spans the range from Bach to Jon Lord to OhmiGawd and far beyond, cackling all the while. Remember a drummer who can actually play drums, believe it or not. Right before you’re about ready to scream, throw in a guitar player who’s been practicing licks and riffs since the womb, I suspect, and is not averse to delivering a few new versions to fully satisfy your curiosity about New Things to Practice on Your Hairbrush In Your Underwear.
Oh, yeah. The bass player. He plays the bass. Most of the time, not badly. He’s also the guy who sings. The combination has been hazardous to my health ever since.
Turn on the blender. Forget the lid. Let’s face it, you’ve always wanted oxblood walls, right? Here’s your excuse.
You might, if you’re very lucky, end up with something like this. The album is now teenaged, in a matter of speaking, but it doesn’t sound dated, doesn’t have that feel that screams “Oh, that sounds so…Nineties!”.
Type O Negative is, shall we say, a definite acquired taste. You either hate the solipsistic/narcissistic bombastic Baroque satirical mess of it all, or you give up, give in and let yourself be swallowed whole by an aural anaconda of an album that won’t let you go. Not now, not tomorrow, not fifteen years from the moment you bought it. Just don’t let the Imp out of your sight. He’s there, all right, and boy, is he perverse!

Speaking of which, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to see if a guy can be raped. The sitar made me do it.