Ghoul’s Night Out: THKD’s Halloween Mixtape

Every year as Halloween approaches, I begin doing things to put myself in the mood to enjoy that most horrific of holidays; decorate the house with all manner of skulls, queue up a slew of horror DVDs, revisit the literary genius of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and most importantly, scare up some appropriately creepy tunes to celebrate the Season of the Witch. Though I typically pick out entire albums rather than individual songs, I thought it might be fun this year to compile a morbid mixtape to share with you, my loyal THKD readers. So, grab a handful of candy corn and gather ’round the jack-o-lantern, not for ghost stories, but for a night of unspeakable audio terror. Although there were many tracks from a variety of genres that could’ve been worthy of inclusion, I decided to keep things as much on the metal side as possible, in the true spirit of THKD. The player is embedded directly below this paragraph, followed by an explanation of each track. Enjoy or die.
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THKD’s Top 100 Metal Albums #2: Type O Negative – October Rust (Roadrunner, 1996)

Autumn in the Midwest is typically dark and chilly, a time of introspection.  The sweltering heat and humidity of Summer dissipates, September’s cool, wet mornings and brown leaf vertigo eventually ushering in October, and with it Halloween, all cardboard skeletons and freshly carved jack-o-lanterns.  Over the years, Type O Negative’s October Rust has more often than not served as my soundtrack to this drearily beautiful, eerily haunting season, and what a soundtrack it is.

I seem to remember reading interviews with dearly departed Type O frontman Peter Steele in which he proclaimed October Rust as his masterpiece, and it’s damn hard to argue with him.  This is a truly excellent album, conceived by a musician who wrote as if he held The Beatles and Black Sabbath (and possibly Bauhaus) in equal regard.  In actuality, the lushly layered pop sensibilities of October Rust recall the work of Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson moreso than The Beatles.  If Wilson had been obsessed with death, lost love, substance abuse and folklore, this might have been the album he made instead of Pet Sounds.  Indeed, there is an atmosphere of dark psychedelia lurking below October Rust‘s surface, adding yet another shade of grey haze to its funereal gloom.

From a song standpoint, the album’s highlights are many.  Opening epic dirge “Love You to Death” and electro/pop/goth/metal lead-off single “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” are probably the two most well known tracks here, and while they’re certainly worthy of their infamy, October Rust is a veritable treasure trove of deep cuts. “Green Man” is an otherworldly ode to nature, touching upon pagan and Wiccan themes.  “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)” is a drunken carol of lost loved ones that even manages to quote “Carol of the Bells”.  “Wolf Moon” is my favorite track on October Rust, the very definition of a perfect song; it’s heavy, catchy, melodic and totally original in both concept and execution.  I’m pretty sure it’s about a werewolf (or perhaps a man who thinks he’s a werewolf) performing cunnilingus on a menstruating woman (“Don’t spill a drop, dear / let me kiss the curse away / yourself in my mouth / will you leave me with your taste?”); it serves as the culmination of the morose, surreal sexuality that permeates the album.  On an earlier track, the lusty “Be My Druidess”, Steele declares “I’ll do anything / to make you come” and I’ve often wondered if the two songs are related, with the “anything” in question being the bloody, lupine muff diving session detailed on “Wolf Moon”.  Then again, maybe I’m just a weird pervert.

The component parts of the songs on October Rust are just as interesting as the songs themselves.  The down-tuned, electric ultra-fuzz of Kenny Hickey’s guitar tone is total Tony Iommi worship, but the myriad influences at work within October Rust‘s aural confines keep it from being a mere Sabbath rip-off; it’s more like Hickey studied Iommi closely and then applied what he learned in support of Steele’s eclectic writing style, creating something totally unique in the process.  Steele’s affinity for crafting great songs peaked with October Rust, and his vampiric baritone vocals are also at the height of their powers throughout the recording, securing the late frontman an eternal place among metal’s greatest and most recognizable singers and songwriters. Josh Silver’s nuanced keyboards and production work completes the album’s rich sonic tapestry, which seamlessly encompasses doom metal, gothic and psychedelic rock.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention the drums, well… according to an interview Silver gave in 2007, the drums on October Rust are canned.

October Rust is many things.  It’s Summer dying fast.  It’s November coming fire. It’s the Green Man, the Wolfman and Bacchus. It’s love, death and depression.  It’s booze and drugs and cigarettes and fucking.  In case it hasn’t already been made abundantly clear, I’ll just come right out and say it: October Rust is a perfect metal album.

THKD’s Top 100 Metal Albums
1. Celestial Season – Solar Lovers
2. Type O Negative – October Rust

RIP Peter Steele (1962 – 2010)

So, I’m a little late in writing on this, but news of Peter Steele’s untimely passing came to me while I was away on my honeymoon.  Oddly enough, my wife and I were listening to Type O Negative’s Bloody Kisses album as we got ready to leave town.

Though I admittedly never really listened to Steele’s previous bands (Carnivore, Fallout), I’ve been a fan of Type O Negative for many years, hearing their single “Black No. 1″ at a young and impressionable age and being quite enamored with their gothic and depressive yet blackly humorous take on metal. I only got to see the band once, alongside Cradle of Filth and Moonspell… how we managed to get that show here in the bowels of the midwest is beyond me, but Type O’s set was easily the highlight of the evening.

There is no way that I can write a better testimonial to Steele’s greatness than those who knew the man personally, so I encourage you all to visit the band’s official website at http://www.typeonegative.net, to read statements from his fellow Type O bandmates and family.

However, I will list my top 10 favorite Type O Negative songs, in no particular order.

1. Black No. 1
2. Christian Woman
3. Summer Breeze (Seals and Crofts Cover)
4. Wolf Moon
5. Haunted
6. The Profits of Doom
7. Black Sabbath (From the Satanic Perspective)
8. Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity
9. Less Than Zero
10. Everyone I Love is Dead

“Please don’t dress in black
When you’re at his wake
Don’t go there to mourn
But to celebrate”
-from “I Don’t Wanna Be Me”