Tales from the Jugular

Staff Comments on Peter Steele

By: Maximum Metal Staff
Published: Sunday, May 9, 2010
Staff Comments on Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele

The metal community received a fatal blow on April 14th 2010, when Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele passed away from aortic aneurysm. The Brooklyn native was instrumental in the gothic metal scene, really establishing a more metallic approach to goth that had yet to be tapped into. His long dark hair, pale appearance and giant stature went miles with the band's imagery. Type O Negative became a household name with the critically acclaimed, best selling "Bloody Kisses".

Before Type O Negative gothic music only had a handful of acts that would even push the boundaries of guitar rock. Until then bands like Bauhaus, Christian Death and Sisters Of Mercy played with heavier tones but never stepped away from the dance and tribal beats. Groups like Nosferatu hinted at some guitar rock and occasionally some heavy overtones but never committed to an actual heavy sound. Steele had his hands in heavy metal as early as 1986 with hardcore New York City act Carnivore. The band released two records before disbanding; Steele forming and fronting Type O and guitarist Marc Piovanetti going to Crumbsuckers.

Type O Negative incorporated a raw punk feel into metal ventures, establishing an almost white noise assault on debut "Slow, Deep and Hard" in 1991 for Roadrunner. Peter Steele, Kenny Hickey and Josh Silver combined on one fantastic trio of talent, accompanied by drummer Sal Abrasco who stayed with the group through '96. A year later the group released "Origin Of The Feces", a mock live album similar to Slayer's idea with "Live Undead". The band hit their stride with "Bloody Kisses", a record that could have been written by pulp fiction genius Anne Rice, an album deep with vampire lore and supernatural textures. Steele's deep soulful vocals fit perfectly with his personal look, a combination that put he and the band in the spotlight with goth fans. Musically the act combined goth, hard rock riffs and a backing keyboard sound that emulated a funeral organ. Type O had hits with "Christian Woman" and "Black No. 1" as well as landing on the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" soundtrack with Seals-Kroft cover "Summer Breeze".

The group followed up their success with "October Rust", again creating that metallic goth sound with punchy guitars and goth imagery. The band had mild success with "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" as well as "Love You To Death" and Neil Young cover "Cinnamon Girl". The band never quite reached the success of their first four year period. The group continued offering albums, with the last record with Peter Steele being "Dead Again" in 2007.

Among the countless groups influenced by the band is New York's Life Of Agony and Pist-On as well as symphonic, black and atmospheric groups that focused on deep vocals, gothic influences and vampire art forms. Peter Steele would often perform in crowds mixed with fans from Cradle Of Filth to Marilyn Manson to Misfits to Ramones. He certainly left behind a musical legacy and rock music fans will cherish his contributions forever.

Personal Notes:
EC --I remember first hearing Type O Negative on a trip to Pizza Hut. A friend had a tape dub of "Christian Woman", "Black No. 1" and "Suspended At Dusk" and at the time I was a big fan of Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat. Soon I played it for a big Rice fan and he related Steele's voice to the rock star portions of "Queen Of The Damned", when Lestat actually fronted a goth rock band in the novel. I remember going to the beach that year with some friends and jamming "Bloody Kisses" non-stop for days. Peter Steele made an appearance on Jerry Springer around this time too and I can remember taping it on my VCR (remember those?)just to see if Steele was really a vampire. I wanted to catch the group on the Motley Crue/Danzig tour but my city was on the outskirts. On Headbanger's Ball, Steele and Josh Silver both stated that Danzig was really nice to them on the tour and had a pet wolf. I thought that was really cool and made me play Type O and Danzig for about a year straight...with the T-shirts and wall posters to prove it. I can also remember skipping work one day to go with staffer Troy Cole to buy "October Rust" on its release day. Good memories of Steele....rest in peace man.

Troy Cole --It doesn't seem that long ago that I was on my couch watching Headbangers Ball and being intrigued by the deep bellows of Peter Steele as he belted out "Black, black, black number one", but it has been a long time since 1993. It was that voice that made me a follower for the next seventeen years of "The Drab Four". Besides his voice I loved the humor he interjected in the songs especially in the early albums 'Slow Deep and Hard' and 'The Origin of the Feces'. The cover tunes were something I looked forward to on every album just to see how Peter's voice would convey in songs like 'Summer Breeze' and 'Cinnamon Girl'. There were many nights during those seventeen years of jamming to Type O while hanging with friends and having a few drinks that I will never forget. Rest in peace Peter…Long live the memories.

Gordon Tittsworth (Images of Eden) --I first heard Peter Steele's work in 1988 when a friend let me hear the "Retaliation" album by his earlier band, Carnivore. After hearing this, I became an immediate fan. I was blown away by the very strong, and brutally honest lyrics, mixed with his very extreme delivery. Without batting an eye, Peter had the "balls" to write lyrics that reflected opinions and thoughts that people had and were actually thinking, but were scared to death to say out loud in public for fear of being branded or persecuted. For this, I had a huge and immediate respect for him. Over the years, I followed Peter's work onto his next band, Type O Negative, which quickly shot to the top of my "favorite bands" list. Peter seemed to bring the same Carnivore-like intensity to T.O.N. but with a brand new original sound that I had never heard before, and with more raw emotion than I had ever heard from any artist. I can honestly say that Peter Steele was the most inspirational musician/songwriter of all time to me. His songwriting was truly one of a kind and his display of emotion through his writing was immeasurable. In the song "I Don't Wanna Be Me", Peter even wrote, "Please don't dress in black when you're at his wake. Don't go there to mourn but to celebrate. R.I.P. Peter"

Greg Watson --I first stumbled onto Type O thanks to staff member Troy Cole also. I borrowed "October Rust" and was instantly hooked. I went back and bought old releases and continued to buy their albums as they came out. I can remember listening to Type O through different periods of my life-they got me through some rough times. I just remember being captivated by the moody, atmospheric music and Steele's deep voice. It is really sad that he is gone and the metal community has lost a great pioneer for gothic metal and a true great. You will be missed my friend!!

Keven Anstett --I remember Carnivore from back in the day, and having never been a big hardcore fan I largely disregarded them. I was surprised to learn several years later the huge waves Type O were making with the release of their Bloody Kisses album that it was indeed former Carnivore mainman Pete Steele fronting this entirely different band. Frankly, I was never a huge fan of Type O Negative, finding their albums often overwhelmed with "filler" and leaving me unconvinced about the seriousness with which the band took themselves, the tongue-in-cheek factor sticking to close to the surface for my personal taste. Yet, there's no denying the impact the man's music had on the metal/music culture, when they found their sweet spot they were one of those few bands who had cross-cultural success, finding fans from many diverse genres accepting and enjoying their grim tones, and more importantly bringing the idea of true gothic metal (a genre I personally have a huge soft-spot for!) into the mainstream, and that we can never thank Mr. Steele enough for. R.I.P.

Miguel Blardony --Whenever a great musician dies, I personally lament the fact that their ability to create music, to have reached their potential, has died with them. Chuck Schuldiner, Cliff Burton, Dimebagg, even Freddie Mercury. Imagine if these guys were still alive and putting out new material. With the tragic loss of Peter Steele, who nows what else he might have done for the metal scene. This, I believe, is the real tragedy every time someone gifted leaves us too soon. It's what could have been. What could have been.

Frank Hill --My exposure to Peter Steele was basically limited to a college roommate playing "Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty of Infidelity" over and over and over for a couple weeks straight at a time when he had some issues with a certain chick. From wallowing in his misery and singing along with the section "I know you're fucking someone else", he was able to neutralize his emotions and find catharsis--a postive from a negative.

Strutter --My most poignant and lasting memory of Pete Steele was when Type O Negative opened for Queensryche in 1994. I was a fan of the band but it was that particular performance that remained in my sonic scrapbook for sixteen years. For a single gig to stay with you for almost two decades says something about the band and in this critic's opinion it speaks volumes about the front man. Steele had a booming voice and a magnetic personality that was not contrived or manufactured. It was slightly intangible, difficult to describe but nonetheless palpable. The crowd was in a feverish pitch for the entire show, and when the band exited the stage you felt as if their energy had somehow transferred to you. In short, Steele made an indelible impact on popular music --his charisma, spirit and rock God posture will never be forgotten.

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