FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume Three: Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses

 First Impressions: Volume Three: Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses

First Impressions: Volume Three: Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses

In this third installment of my new series of First Impressions Articles I find myself listening to Bloody Kisses by Type O Negative. In keeping with the First Impressions theme, I will be listening to an album that people consider a metal classic but I haven’t heard before and then writing about it in a way that flirts between stream of consciousness and standard review structure willy-nilly.

This album was a good choice and should prove interesting as I don’t know much about Type O Negative, not much at all. I do know that their singer is called Pete Steele, possibly from New York. I know he died two years ago alongside Dio and Paul Grey, I vaguely know somebody was once racist just to impress Pete Steele (maybe Biohazard or Hatebreed, some hardcore band anyway) and I had saw the video for ‘My Girlfriends Girlfriend’ a few times when it was new. Furthermore I have a fuzzy memory of seeing a music video on a Roadrunner VHS which I can’t recall the name of… (the song, not the VHS that is)

The VHS was called Drilling The Vein, contained music videos by Machine Head, Soulfly and Slipknot and was given out by HMV Belfast to promote Download festival and was given to customers who bought a few Roadrunner Records albums at once.

I didn’t qualify for receiving a copy of drilling the vein when I actually did, because one of the albums that I bought in that sale (which included Ill Nino’s Debut album, Fear Factory’s Demanufacture and Biohazard’s Urban Discipline, if you are interested) was on the right record company but for some reason not in the promotion, however my father talked the sales assistant into giving me it anyway.

Anyway; apart from this very small exposure to the band, I have literally no idea what to expect, as I have forgotten literally anything anybody has ever told me about them in regards to overall genre, similar artists, seriousness/tone etc. They might be super commercial pop metal or utterly extreme American Post-Black Metal.

When I put the album on the thing that struck me most was the production, the production job is absolutely out of this world and sounds like it cost billions of dollars to make. Bloody Kisses is one of the best produced things that I have ever heard; the tom sound, harpsichord and clean guitar in particular. It seems hard to believe it came out in 1993 given how much better it sounds than even the biggest band’s albums from the same time.

Another thing that I notice, just looking at the data is that Bloody Kisses is a very long album at 73 minutes, with most songs lasting between five and eleven minutes in length. There are fourteen tracks, which usually only happens with bands who write shorter songs, although some of the tracks here aren’t proper songs, similar to Tool’s Aenima album, with its intermission and satanic omelet.

After a thoroughly unpleasant intro track that reminds me of a mixture between Cradle Of Filth and MFKR era Slipknot, the first song begins and it turns out that the music sounds sort of like 80s pop music and pretty gothic, only with a distinctly 90s-metal undercurrent.

I quite enjoyed the first two tracks, and how the album felts as if it was going to go in that direction all the way through. Usually I don’t much care for gothic music and think it is often the least enjoyable part of Cradle Of Filth’s otherwise excellent repertoire for example.

Type O Negative’s take on the gothic sound is fairly palatable however, and that part of ‘Christian Woman’ doesn’t annoy me like it might have done if other bands had did it. Then of course, when the heavy riff kicks in after the seven minute mark and Pete sings ‘Jesus Christ looks like me’ the song becomes absolutely awesome. I really like Pete’s voice here and I like the Black Sabbath through a Faith No More filter kind of sound that the riff conjures up.

Black Number One is similar in style but has a very energetic pre-chorus that reminds me of Pearl Jam/Nirvana which excites me and six minutes in when a huge Doom/Stoner riff kicks in, it really grabs my imagination. This is what Mushroomhead covering Monster Magnet might sound like.

Then the band decide to mess around instead of just ploughing ahead making good music, there is an intermission track and then ‘Kill All The White People,’ which is a hardcore punk song for a minute and a doom metal track for two minutes.

The two songs which follow take only one part each of the styles that the previous two good songs combined which I suppose is a nice idea, although the fact that I have just heard two huge long tracks mixing Sabbathy riffs with cleaner sounds makes the two songs just sound like one track. If it was one more track in that vein, it would be a good one. Also, The keyboard solo on ‘Sets Me On Fire’ is right up my alley, musically speaking. It reminds me a little of Caravan.

To use another pointless cover analogy, the kind which despite my need to use so frequently, only I will understand since I only ever refer to some incredibly specific element of each bands sound, ‘Too Late’ sounds like Soulfly covering New Order’s Blue Monday as an inexplicable bookend to a My Dying Bride song.

If you were wondering, my favourite song on the album is ‘Blood & Fire’ which disguised under the keys and lament filled vocal performance has some absolutely brilliant, meaty guitar with an amazing and indefinable x factor, in the same way that ‘Whats Up Mr. Zero’ has, which you wouldn’t know because not enough people have heard that song. Go and listen to that song by the way, seriously. Anyway, it has that Mr. Zero magic up until it breaks clean and reminds me of both the Rainforest in general and Snakes & Arrows era Rush, only to return with a triumphantly fighter-jets-and-leather-jackets sounding guitar solo. If this song wasn’t a single, then this band hate money.

I like this album a heck of a lot to be honest. The only thing that I have a problem with is that there is a lot of personality audible on there, and that can be hard to take for someone as cynical and quick to judge as me, or at least as I used to be. Part of me feels that with all the variety the band are trying to do too much and that they are deliberately trying to brake any and all genre conventions for the sake of it at the expense of musical quality, in what would be a pompous and arty way if… it didn’t sound so damn good.

I can tell right now that I would absolutely despise ‘We Hate Everyone’ if I was still a teenager and still had the same personality and hang-ups that I did back then. To some extent I can actually feel that hatred banging at the walls of the skin in my forearms, but it is drown out by how much I straight up love the track with my current personality. It is too good to dislike, and its mixture of a dozen styles, tones and genre conventions utterly works when everything about it suggests a deliberate attempt to clash.

Going off production value, vocal talent and the big smile that most of the album puts on my face I think this album is something I am going to be listening to a lot more than once. It isn’t flawless, I’ll concede to my former self, in a way I would like a few more of the big Iommi riffs since my brain is currently set to love Stoner Rock and I really wish it didn’t have the intermissions and samples; crying women and crying babies aren’t why I listen to music after all.

Actually, looking on Wikipedia it turns out that such a version is actually available, the digipak version to be specific.

When the band are doing what I rather presumptuously have now decided are their ‘proper songs’ like the amazing Title Track and the first two songs (not counting the intro) I absolutely love what the band have to offer and would be really interested to check out more of their stuff, especially if it turns out that this is their one-off experimental album and that they have albums with just what I liked here and none of what I didn’t like…. Remember, I know nothing about Type O Negative at the time of writing.

2 Comments

  1. You’ve hit it right on the fucking head. The main thing that separates our taste in music, right there.

    Personality.

    I love it, you hate it. Or you used to hate it and are now fighting teenage impulses not to or however you feel about it. I think that’s the reason I like so few bands and you like, like, every major American metal band and all the prog bands. I tend to just enjoy bands that have their own sound, or epitomise a sound from one genre. This is why I could never listen to KSE, Lamb Of God, Trivium and all those other bands, because they are to me very clearly ‘genre’ bands. Generic, even. I don’t use that as a cheap insult, it’s just how they present to me. Take Cradle, MDB, Sepultura, Fear Factory and of course Type O Negative, these are all bands with interesting new ideas or some major personal hook. Mastodon too. If another band came along that sounded LIKE Mastodon, I’d have zero interest. There are examples of non-personality bands, but nowhere near as many. Being able to tell Peter wrote these songs is a huge part of the appeal to me. Now that I think about it, this probably explains why I never really got into any of the major bands, like the big 4 and Megadeth and so on.

    There’s no way Type O Negative were just throwing things at the wall and seeing what stuck, though. I don’t get that impression at all. You seem to have a respect for established song structures that I don’t have at all, but even at that, that’s not what I mean here. I don’t think they were trying to annoy people by shoving genres together, I think that’s honestly the music the poured out of them.

    What exactly is the gothic sound you refer to? It’s a term that, referring to music, I never understood. I always thought the keys sound on Dusk.. And Her Embrace sounded vaguely gothic, but I’m not sure what you mean here. The IMAGE is gothic, certainly, but the music?

    The “Jesus Christ looks like me…Jesus Christ” gag makes me laugh every time. There’s a tonne of wry non-humour on their albums but it’s never wacky Limp Bizkit humour that sucks you out of the music.

    Also, liking Sabbath helps. There’s a lot of Sabbath riffing (Sabbath + Beatles = Type O is a fair equation, I think) and they even covered Black Sabbath on the Bloody Kisses sessions, and Paranoid for the album before, but they’re quite different.

    There’s one track on there, it might be “Too Late”, that I see as obviously one of those ‘leave it for the digipak’ tracks that has nothing interesting and adds nothing to the flow. Of course, the digipak for Bloody Kisses removes the interludes and the punk tracks, which is bizarre and I think robs the album of much of its dynamic appeal (not the interludes, the missing actual tracks).

    The next album is straight up short songs, almost all single worthy, little experimentation and wonderful through and through. 2007’s Dead Again would probably appeal to you the most, as it has the most classic-style riffing and better integration of different sounds.

    This is probably the only Type O album that sounds this good. The next three use a drum machine, which I’ve long since gotten used to, but that may put you off. The first album is punk/ doom through and through, and October Rust is all the stuff on here that isn’t punk or doom, so this is a good halfway point.

    Also, on a superfluous note – Drilling The Vein 4 was the video version of the Download CD series which in turn the festival was named after, but the first festival wasn’t held until 2003. The tape came out round about 2001. The video on there was “Love You To Death”, from October Rust, the same video that got me into the band, though as usual for me it took years and years and years. I got my copy DTV with Demanufacture and Obsolete 🙂 I remember it was in one of those weird curved boxes like Welcome To The Neighbourhood. Roadrunner was the only company I ever saw use them.

    The racism thing is something that stems from Steele’s days in Carnivore, who had a number of tongue in cheek racist tracks, most notably “Race War”. The reaction by idiots to these songs is what facilitated “Kill All The White People” on Bloody Kisses. I never heard about the Biohazard thing though.

    Like

    • Yeah, I have a mental distinction between unique and genre bands too. What usually happens is that I get into a unique band and then want about seven to twelve genre bands like a junkie chasing that awesome first hit but getting worse and worse results. I’d actually put LoG in the unique catagory though.

      Also Megadeth are in The Big Four.

      Anyway, what’s next ?

      Like

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