Type O Negative's 'Life' Style

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

When Type O Negative's fifth studio album, "Life Is Killing Me" (Roadrunner), hits the streets June 17, frontman Peter Steele is ready for people to start complaining.

The bassist/vocalist/songwriter predicts a backlash from the not-so-radio-friendly album track "I Like Goils." The rapid-fire tirade is a treatise on his unbudging heterosexual orientation that contains outrageously politically incorrect lyrics.

But the PC state of mind is what Steele wants to bash-not homosexuality or any particular individual.

"The song was poking fun at PC. I did this because I can't wait to see what happens," he admits. "To my knowledge, I did no wrong. I use the word 'queer' because I'm a heterosexual. Isn't it sexist that only a homosexual can use the word 'queer' but a heterosexual can't? Shouldn't both be wrong? Or both be right?"

Steele sums up "Goils" as "a stupid sociological experiment. If we are all equal, and we have freedom of speech, what does it f***ing matter what we say?"

What Type O Negative has to say -- and its admittedly warped way of expressing it -- matters to its fans. The doom-laden metal act has returned with more poignant compositions that are at times morbid, amusing, frightening, or the three combined, which is what their following loves.

Infidelity, death, and depression are among the dreary subjects the band has set to music. The group comprises Steele, keyboardist Josh Silver, drummer Johnny Kelly, and guitarist Kenny Hickey.

As its lyricist, Steele takes an unflinching look at whatever sorrows are blackening his heart and pours them into his words.

This time, Steele focuses on themes of betrayal and revenge-in "... A Dish Best Served Coldly" -- as well as venting his opinion on managed health care and coming to terms with the mortality of one's parents (the title track and "Nettie").

"Life Is Killing Me" is a reflection on Steele's late father, whom he insists would have lived longer if he had better medical care.

"I really don't like doctors, because they're supposed to take the Hippocratic oath -- which I call the hypocritical oath -- and everything, as usual, just comes down to money," Steele explains.

"Sometimes I feel like older people are being kept alive just to increase a physician's income. I really can't understand why we can so easily euthanise beautiful creatures like cats and dogs, but we keep the scum of the earth, mainly human beings, alive and in pain."

Musically, the uptempo beat and anthemic chorus on "Goils" will remind listeners of "Unsuccessfully Coping With the Natural Beauty of Infidelity" from the band's 1991 debut, "Slow, Deep and Hard."

(The song is a likely reason why Steele thinks "Goils" will irritate people. "Unsuccessfully" gave voice to a man berating his lover after he discovered that she was unfaithful. He says it was based on a painful real-life experience. Critics thought it was misogynistic.)

On "Life," fans will recognize the gothic elements that permeated 1994's "Bloody Kisses," the band's best selling album to date at 864,000 copies sold in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The heavily layered sound and eerie atmospheres invoked on 1996's "October Rust" are also present.

Silver, who co-produced the album with Steele, says the new set is vastly different from the previous studio album, 1999's "World Coming Down."

"That was a much more stark, realistic album," Silver observes. "I hate to use the word 'fun,' because it pains me to do so, but for lack of a better term, it is a slightly more fun album, more eclectic, 'Bloody Kisses'-type of thing."

But Type O Negative doesn't enter the studio intending to explore a particular musical focal point.

Silver says, "Everything changes right up until the final moment-including the final moment half the time -- and I wouldn't want to limit it to some kind of preconceived notion that could be better or could even be worse. I don't think it's fair to restrict a process that just flows naturally."

A headlining tour in Europe will run June 19-July 11. The group then kicks off a 14-date U.S. trek July 25 at the Worchester (Mass.) Palladium.

Excerpted from the June 21, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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