The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s: #15, Type O Negative
The ’90s: they were the bomb! That’s why MetalSucks will spend the month of March giving snaps to the decade that was all that and a bag of chips by counting down The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s. These aren’t bands that necessarily formed in the ’90s, nor are they bands that would turn out to be influential somewhere down the road; these are bands that a) were doing their best work in the ’90s, and b) amassed a devout following during the ’90s. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for extreme music. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for yo mama.
Peter Steele once appeared on the cover of Playgirl magazine. While that certainly shouldn’t — and won’t — go as Type O Negative’s crowning accomplishment, it serves to underscore their importance (and thereby inclusion on this list) in two ways: 1) it’s an example of the mainstream penetration (pun intended) Type O Negative, and metal as a whole, had in the ’90s, and 2) it’s the very embodiment of sexiness in metal, which Type O helped define.
Musically, Type O kicked the door open for all manner of slow, sad metal and burned its house right down to the fucking ground. By combining elements of funeral doom, sludge and gothic rock into one, Type O made it OK — even cool — to be sad and to be metal at the same time. No longer was metal the sole domain of partying, or of fantastical stories, or politics or what have you. Now it could be bitterly raw, unyieldingly painful, and startlingly ugly. It could be depressive, even suicidal. No veneer, no cover ups, no polish; this is life, and it fucking sucks.
Back to that Playgirl shoot: sure, metal had been sexy before all six feet, seven inches of Big Pete splayed his loins out under a bouquet of roses for all the world to see, but not the kind of metal that anyone took seriously. Plenty of bands from the ’80s attempted to market their sex appeal but many would question whether those bands were even “metal” at all, and regardless of where you fall in that particular argument the sexification of Crue, Poison, Cinderella and others always came with a wink and a sly grin. Type O Negative played deadly serious music, and Peter Steele’s stone cold stare and deadpan facial expressions oozed pure, hardened, unironic smut. Woman wanted him and men wanted to be him in a way that no metal star before or after has inspired or ever will. What’s more, bands still haven’t stopped imitating his morose take on sexiness: H.I.M. and Tribulation are but a couple on the tip of my tongue today.
Type O Negative paved the way for all the doom and goth-inspired bands that would follow in the next two decades. The opened the door for sexiness in metal to be taken seriously. And they did so by letting their true selves hang out. Rarely has music in any genre from such a pioneering band been made with such sheer honesty.