Bassist Peter Steele, frontman of this consummately nihilistic Brooklyn dirge-metal-cum-goth-rock quartet, lives by the rebel’s credo so eloquently expressed by Marlon Brando in The Wild One. “Whaddaya got?” Steele’s unilateral misanthropy has been mistaken for sexism, racism and simple-minded poppycock — but only the last interpretation holds any water at all.
Slow, Deep and Hard is one of the most extreme metal albums of the decade, rife as it is with such drawn-out death-knells as “Unsuccessfully Coping With the Natural Beauty of Infidelity,” a funereal wail that finds Steele (who formerly fronted the thrash-metal outfit Carnivore) moaning in dismay about being spurned by the love of his life. His oft-repeated lament — “I know you’re fuckin’ someone else” — is matched by his bandmates’ (who, not surprisingly, prefer to hide behind single initials here) interjections of “slut,” “whore” and equivalent insults. Steele saves most of his venom for such self-immolation sessions as “Prelude to Agony.” Steele’s deep bass croon (he actually is a more than adequate singer), combined with the solemn, bass-heavy dirginess of the “melodies,” often makes Type O Negative sound like an evil doppelgänger for fellow Sabbath-philes Joy Division. In what passes not for humor but for highbrow art here, “The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences” is sixty-four seconds of nothing.
Type O Negative’s “special” relationship with its audience manifests itself from the onset of the live Origin of the Feces, which fades in on a robust (and lengthy) crowd chant of “you suck,” accompanied by the crashes of multiple breaking bottles. Clearly skilled at the ins and outs of taming the savage metal crowd, Steele offers up an a cappella verse of “I’m in the Mood for Love” (yes, that one) before leading the band into a painstakingly enunciated, keyboard-tinged version of “Unsuccessfully Coping.” Unfortunately, he wastes a few minutes of space that could’ve been given over to post-Rickles banter on “Are You Afraid,” a witless pro-suicide anthem that only serves to call to mind the adage about heeding one’s own advice. Based on this, Brooklyn homeboy Andrew Dice Clay would likely enjoy the band’s company. (Collector’s note: the original sleeve, which featured an up-close and personal shot of Steele’s anus, was later withdrawn and replaced with something less literally befitting the title.)
The quartet succumbs to its own worst inclinations on Bloody Kisses, an overblown, full-on goth record gravely (no pun intended) lacking in the band’s past over-the-top attitude. Yes, “We Hate Everyone” jibes at the extreme left and far right, but the album is overrun with workaday sacrilege (like the three-part “Christian Woman”) that could have been gleaned from a copy of Crowley for Dummies. Steele does, however, proffer just enough of his unique plasmaphilic sexual rumination — like the title track and “Blood & Fire” — to engender hope for a rosy (or is that gory?) future.