Teenagers loving doom and gloom is a stereotype but you know what they say about stereotypes? There’s sometimes a bit of truth in there. In many cases, guilty as charged. As I’ve been writing these chapters and looking at the chapters to come if you went by the bands that I really liked as a teenager you would totally expect me to have dyed black hair and live in a black bedroom where I slept in a coffin. Joy Division, Bauhaus, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, we’re talking some pretty heavy teenage doom and gloom music here.
Now, you’d have to talk to my friends but I don’t think I was any more depressed or angsty than any other average teenager. I had my spots but what kid didn’t? Given the albums that I was heavy into buying during this period, I specifically remember the day that I think my mom became slightly worried for me. It was just an instant but it was when she opened up the record club package and out slid Bloody Kisses by Type O Negative.
I mean, it was a darkly named band with a darkly named album that sported a cover of two lesbians making out, all shaded with a grainy green filter. Give then other albums that had been appearing in my record collection and the fact that her son played a lot of pen and paper roleplaying games, I kind of don’t blame her in retrospect.
Bloody Kisses was also the first album I bought where I was slightly careful about playing it around my house, specifically around my mom.
We’ll get back to that.
I’m not sure how I discovered Type O Negative. It might have been through Much Music’s Power Hour or Power 30 (the metal hour/half hour) as I think I was the first of our friend to pick up the album. I know by the end of 1994 that at least three or four of my other friends also had their own copies.
I distinctly remember seeing the video for “Black No. 1” and just marveling at Peter Steele. He was everything I wasn’t. He was tall, he was well built, he had a voice like the rumble of thunder and he played bass. Then the music started to catchy me. This was very similar to the goth bands that I had started to dig but also had a heavier tone to it. It was like a gothy sabbath.
As a teenager, I really dug the lower notes. It sounds odd writing it now but it was the dark, thud of the music that really caught me at first. As luck would have it, soon after this day I would catch a whole half hour of Type O Negative on Much.
The songs were dark. They were long. It was kind of like listening to a gothy metal thunderstorm.
I needed this album.
A month or two later, the disc arrived at my door with the aforementioned lesbians kissing. I took it downstairs and the first thing to come out of my speakers was a woman having an orgasm. I quickly turned the volume down while the track passed. I would quickly learn to either program my CD player to skip that first track (called “Machine Screw”) while my mom was home or keep the volume low.
It was there I became a fan of Type O Negative for good and Bloody Kisses would become my favorite album.
As a teenager, there were things I found odd about the album but liked. There were these odd sound clips in between tracks including one that sounded like a woman being sacrificed to a large animal. The songs were long for the most part which was a little different in the era where grunge had become king. At the time, I loved “Black No. 1” and “Christian Woman” were my favorites.
The weird thing that happens when you’re a big music fan is as you get older, your tastes may shift, even for albums and bands that you still like. Bloody Kisses is like that for me because now that I’m older, I still love all of the songs but I now get the jokes.
The thing about Type O Negative that I didn’t get in my teen years were the jokes and dare I say, wit that was a part of many of their songs. “Kill All The White People” is a blatant one but you’d also find some pieces in the more serious songs like “Christian Woman” that features the line “Would you suffer eternally Or internally?”. “Black No. 1” isn’t just about a goth chick, it’s about a slightly narcissistic goth chick who uses black hair dye.
This is also an incredibly well put together album. It’s slick but not glossy (if that makes any sense). The track placement makes the album work as a whole and with the closing of “Can’t Lose You” just closes the album like the perfect last chapter of a book. While Type O Negative would go on to make some other great albums, this is the one where it all clicks. To me, this is Type O’s Sgt. Pepper.
That being said, I always had faith that Type O Negative had one more amazing album in them. Something even better than Bloody Kisses. My hopes were raised after Dead Again was released in 2007 and Peter Steele, lead singer, songwriter, and bass player had become sober. Dead Again seemed like they were heading in the right direction but alas, Steele would pass away a few years later dashing my hopes.
As an adult, I’ve found there’s not a huge amount of people who are still fans of the band. Many people may not even know who they were, which is a shame given how interesting a band they were. But there are some out there and I almost treat that fandom like a secret handshake. In my mind, if you’re a fan of the band, there’s a good chance we have similar musical tastes and senses of humor.
A couple of months before I wrote this, I was preparing for moderating duties at a writer’s panel at a comic convention (I tend to do these a lot). While I was researching the guests (what they had written, for what companies, etc), I noticed that one of the writers’s used a line from “Black No. 1” in her twitter profile. The minute she hit the panel room, I said:
“Is part of your twitter profile from Type O Negative?”
She smiled “Yes!”
To which I replied at a possibly frighteningly loud volume,
“We are so going to be the best of friends!”
While we are not the best of friends (quite frankly, had she maced me after that outburst, I kind of wouldn’t have blamed her but she was cool), but we got along well for the panel and my assumption that she has a good sense of humor was dead on.
Type O Negative’s Bloody Kisses is (if you’ll excuse the pun) a bloody good album. Type O Negative helped me appreciate the darker side of metal. To fully embrace band like Black Sabbath and King Diamond. It also taught me that you can go dark, but still have a laugh or two along the way.
Next week, we head to the land of industrial but a little bit more cheerful industrial then you may be used to.