Type O Negative: October Rust (1996)
I’ll just preface this by saying that I’ve never been a huge fan of Type O Negative’s music despite owning a few of their albums. I’m not sure if it the allure of Peter’s steely, confident baritone vocals or the fantastic production of their mid-era albums but there is something I can’t help but find alluring about the band.
My first encounter with Type O Negative was with the band’s debut record Slow, Deep and Hard. The fuzzy guitars, punk-like vocal choruses and overtly sexual lyrical content was appealing to me as a teenager and while it is rather embarrassing to go back and listen to,The Benhonhoist Lesbian Choir and the cover image being prime examples, the lengthy, interesting compositions still hold up. The unfortunate thing was that I grew out of the content quickly so by the next year’s release of their follow up entitled The Origin Of The Feces the joke had gotten old.
In 1993 I was at a friend’s house when the music video for that year’s Bloody Kisses album was televised and I was left questioning my abandonment of the band so I promptly purchased the album for that single, Black No.1. Three years later I purchased October Rust and found it a bit of a letdown at the time. The punk qualities were all but absent and the shift towards the slower dirges weren’t doing anything for me at the time. The bad humor was still present but in a more lighthearted way with the introductory song being a low hum followed by an introduction of the band intended to maybe trick the listener into thinking their speakers are broken. It is unnecessary and even to this day distracting since the first real song, Love You To Death would have introduced the album with more of an impact and grace.
With all of those negative criticisms out of the way, October Rust has really grown on me over the years. To this day there really isn’t anything else that sounds like it stylistically or production-wise and when the lyrics aren’t completely absurd or cringe-worthy they can be fun. Peter Steele’s bass and lead vocals are creative, unusual and delivered with so much of a smooth confidence that it makes the hits on this thing far outweigh the misses.
Type O Negative came out of the gate on Slow, Deep and Hard with a distinct sound which is a rarity in most bands. There is a cavernous, cold feel to all of their albums that is easily identifiable and unique. On October Rust the instruments all meld together in a comprehensively sludgy way. How they were able to manage some of the electric guitar layers is beyond me. Imagine yourself sitting half a mile away from a band on stage and being able to hear each element individually. Most of the time the drums sound like they were recorded in a heavily padded room deep in a crypt yet, somehow they are audible. Silver’s keyboardist are always lingering in the background but infrequently take the lead. All four members play their lines together which creates a thick wall of sound.
The title of the album perfectly reflects the month of October. Songs like the aforementioned Love You To Death, Be My Druidess and Wolf Man are huge standouts for me with the latter being as perfect as anything gets to inciting that Halloween mood. At nearly 73 minutes October Rust is far too long and the midsection could have lost a few tracks to the cutting room floor without losing anything of quality but the great moments far outweigh the weak. Without the amateur comedy antics, silly nods to Christmas and the absolutely pointless Neil Young cover song this could have been an easy hour of beautiful, brooding music. One can’t blame Type O Negative entirely as it seemed like a record contract necessity to bloat every artist’s albums in the CD format and to pay homage to older music with a cover song in the ’90s.