Classic Albums Revisited: Type O Negative’s October Rust

Type O Negative - October Rust (1996)

By Ola Mazzuca

It can be argued that Type O Negative’s most definitive album is Bloody Kisses, with it’s infamous recording of “Black No. 1” establishing their cultivated goth sound and showcasing the solemn demeanor of Peter Steele, with his hulking, Frankenstein like character, bass in hand and voice bellowing deep.

Let’s face it. If you’re in love, Type O Negative provide the perfect playlist. Steele’s lyrical content ranging from harsh mental voids to anecdotes of love, loss and failure that float atop melodic riffs and wicked basslines collide for the perfect crutch to many challenges life throws at us. The music is so erotic, passionate yet heavy and dark all at once that make for an aura beyond overwhelming.

This week, the global metal scene lost that prominent Frankenstein monster of a genius mentioned prior. My dreams of holding the hand of someone I love as I watch Type O Negative live have now been demolished. Nonetheless, I feel it is my duty to revisit my favourite Type O album, to dissect it and explain the beauty it truly possesses.

You put the disc into the stereo and press play, waiting for the first track to begin. Fear of purchasing a faulty copy of the record arises when you hear fuzzy drone sounds escaping the speakers, later realizing that it was only an inside joke brought to you by Josh, Kenny, Johnny and Peter. How gracious of them to not only leave you with a laugh but a personal message of genuine thanks for purchasing their compositions.

As soon as “Love You To Death” commences, the tone is set and everything else is forgotten, left behind. Your emotions are now adjusted to the mood of the album. If you weren’t in love, you are now. If you weren’t desolate, you are now. If you weren’t nostalgic, you are now. It’s done. There is no better way to begin the record.

In that track alone exist so many messages and connections that can be made from various relationships. It could make you yearn for that intriguing human being more than ever before, or conjure up realization of why you care so much about the person you’re with. When Steele utters the lyrics “Am I good enough for you?” you become one with the vocalist, as all of us can relate to questioning our adequacy.

With fantastic content of longing on “Be My Druidess” and soul-searching notes on “Green Man”, the album starts to establish its strong gothic character. The former is a gorgeous melody that progresses throughout, with sounds of nature and Peter’s emotive spirit.

I love bands that wear a heart on their sleeve, primarily in metal. It allows us to peer into the artist’s depth of nature and the factors that intrigue us and lead to possibly relating to their scripture. “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)” is such a great example, with lyrics that depict loss and emptiness on the world’s most celebrated religious holiday.

If you have just begun following the band or supported them from their humble beginnings on Slow, Deep and Hard, you’ve already received a whiff of Type O’s contrast in seriousness and humour. Lyrics of ‘it’s no secret we’re close as sweaty Velcro’ on “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” envision twisted threesomes with Pete, who was also known for his extensive list of female fans.

When artists have the ability to tackle more than one thematic role, much is accomplished in a sense that common relevance is covered and great variation is present allowing for a laugh or two.

Despite his history of being with many gals on and off the road, Steele’s sensitive side is shown on “Die With Me”, a track that tells the story of a lover’s departure and Peter’s possible regrets. The track sinks low in chugging riffs, rising high in lyrics and structure that is simple, but effective content-wise.

“Burnt Flowers Fallen” is another love story while “In Praise Of Bacchus” is pure doom, it’s tempo slow and lazy before the start of my favourite cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl”. Sure, Motorhead did a notable version, but I have yet to hear an attempt at the classic that is better than Type O’s.

The interlude that follows embodies a lengthy title of “The Glorious Liberation of the People’s Technocratic Republic of Vinnland By The Combined Forces of the United Territories of Europa”. According to my research, Vinnland is a symbol consisting of Peter’s ideas and interest in paganism, left/right wing political aspects and his own heritage into a notion of a republic named after North America’s moniker to the Vikings, otherwise known as Vinland.

As the album slowly nears ending with even more intimacy on “Wolf Moon” and “Haunted”, a right amount of closure is given as you analyze the album as a whole. It is common that we purchase an album, ending up only enjoying less than half of it. The reason why albums are labeled classic is simply for their outstanding ability to leave you interested for the hour you spend listening to it.

October Rust should be in your stereo, on your shelf, in a record player, or on your iPod for many of the reasons listed above and more that I’m sure other individuals can contribute through a musical testimony.

We may have lost Petrus T. Ratajczyk due to heart failure, but his legacy with or without the band will live on for eternity. The heart is strongly, if not always associated with love, admiration and passion which leaves me wondering: did Peter Steele die to health related heart failure, or did he lucidly love to death?

As quoted on the back of the album sleeve, above an earthy, dark photo of the band: “Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism; we are the vandals”. Thanks for the amazing musical graffiti, boys.

(Roadrunner Records)