Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peter Steele, sardonic goth-metal genius, has died

I read the news today, oh boy. Peter Steele, frontman of Type O Negative, has passed away. I've loved his music since my teens. My friends and I once stood outside Type O's tour bus, waiting patiently for autographs, which each member kindly granted. I saw the above video on Headbanger's Ball in the early '90s and it spun me around. I had no idea what "goth" was or any of that. I only knew that I loved the sumptuousness of the sound, the combination of steely metal and deep-voiced, almost choral crooning. I loved the perversity of the lyrics (see: "Christian Woman," one of the most potent statements I know re: the carnality at the heart of Christianity), and as I investigated further, I came to understand that here was a man (Steele) who not only got the dark and gloom; he also got the hilarity of it all.

You wouldn't find that in, say, Nine Inch Nails, or any of the other well-known angst purveyors of the time. You had to go to Type O Negative to get a song called "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity (I Know You're Fucking Someone Else)" or to get an absolutely brilliant faux live album wherein the band sparred with merciless imaginary hecklers. (Hunt down the original cover art for that one, and you'll get a nasty treat.) Or to find out that your tortured hero had posed for Playgirl.

After losing track of Type O for a few years, I was thrilled to find that the band's most recent album, Dead Again, was every bit as sick and satisfying as their vintage work. I hadn't seen them play live since that show way back when (I think they were opening for Danzig), and I was really looking forward to checking them out next time around. Since there won't be a next time, please understand that this man was a genius. For a lot of reasons, but chiefly because he was brave enough to push buttons, to mix the dark and the light in utterly perverse and fucked-up ways that made you feel baffled and challenged and enthralled and spooked. And I haven't even touched on Carnivore...

We will miss you, Mr. Steele.


Unknown said...

I remember back in the mid 90s, I was given the luckiest job for a burgeoning Goth- an intern at an 'alternative rock' radio station. One day, my Program Manager comes in and tells me to "get my pasty white ass" to a certain club in Florida. That was the night that I had met Peter Steele for the first time. Type O was playing with Life of Agony that night, and it was my job to interview them- Peter, especially.
He was a witty, sharp-tongued mountain of a man, and I remember spending most of the evening in laughter at the jokes that he would crack on anything- mostly himself and the band.
I'll miss you, Pete.

Drew said...

Just played Christian Woman at full volume. Truly a unique band and guy. RIP.

tarleisio said...

You're not the only one of countless millions who was devastated. Such a twisted genius will me missed - and more than he knows, just as we all appreciated him much less than he deserved.