Oh, How I Hate the Morning: Type O Negative - October Rust Retrospective

25 years ago, four Brooklynites came together to create the most evocative and accessible gothic metal record intended to draw a stronger female fanbase and ended up creating a pillar of the genre.

Words by Tyson Tillotson (@tytilly):

In 1996, metal was in an interesting and not very promising position. Metallica by this point were in the beginning stages of their much maligned Load (1996)/ReLoad (1997) era, which saw them become more rock and less thrash. Grunge had been the vogue form of rock for the last couple of years that ended with Kurt Cobain’s exiting of the mortal coil in 1994. R&B and hip-hop were slowly becoming the next musical zeitgeist. Alt-rock also rose to prominence with the rise of successful young punk adjacent bands like Green Day, Blink-182 and The Offspring. If you wanted the heavy stuff, you still had to tape trade and follow zines. Black metal was well into a second wave, the golden age of death metal would see a last great album in the form of None So Vile (1996) before the genre would hibernate for roughly a decade and nu metal was quickly rising to the forefront with bands like Korn and Rage Against the Machine leading the charge. Yet, there was still a strong fanbase for a genre that began earlier in the decade that still held a sizable following: gothic metal.

The earliest traces of the gothic metal sound could be linked back to the forefathers of doom: namely Candlemass, Trouble, and Saint Vitus. Doom would continue to evolve into the early part of the 90’s with albums such as Paradise Lost’s seminal Gothic (1991) being seen as the true launch point for bands like Theatre of Tragedy, The Gathering, Katatonia, and countless others, but while most of those European bands focused on more of a theatrical and grandiose form of gothic doom, a band right across the pond, in the Big Apple, would begin to infect the subgenre with their Halloween-esque image and melting pot of influences. That band was Type O Negative. To understand the unique position that this band was in at the time, you must dig into the past just a little bit. While we know the Drab Four for their popular MTV hits, their origins are much more sinister and heart wrenching as you’d expect.

No matter how you spin the story, the Type O Negative saga begins and ends with Petrus Thomas Ratajczyk, who would come to be known the world over as Peter Steele. The Red Hook, Brooklyn native began small with childhood band Fallout, which included his friend from youth: Josh Silver. The group recorded a two track single before breaking up soon after. A few years would pass by in which time Steele would form Carnivore. Compared to most other crossover thrash bands at the time, Carnivore’s self-titled (1985) debut eschewed politics and teenage beer runs in favor of barbaric lyrics involving “fighting, feasting, fucking…” in nearly every track. The S/T was and remains a controversial piece of underground metal and the ante was upped even more on 1987’s Retaliation, which saw such family friendly titles as Race War, Jesus Hitler, and S.M.D (Suck My Dick). By this time, Steele had begun to see that playing apocalyptic NY crossover wasn’t satiating his musical appetite. The artistic direction that Steele sought was then kamikazed by an event that is still semi shrouded in mystery but would alter his life and the lives of untold millions.

Shortly after Carnivore’s disbandment, Peter Steele would experience one of the worst things anyone can be acquainted with: his significant other cheated on him. Filled with self-hate and an unquenchable rage, he said, “October 15, 1989, I slashed my wrists. All I can say is that I fell in love with the wrong person.” This extreme response would lead to Steele contacting his old Fallout bandmate Silver, to form a new band called Repulsion with guitarist Kenny Hickey and drummer Sal Abruscato with Steele himself again handling bass and vocal duties and Silver on the ebony and ivory. The group hastily recorded a demo entitled None More Negative that would eventually attract the attention of Carnivore’s former label: Roadrunner. At the time, the band wished to re-record all the material from the demo to which Roadrunner responded with a resounding no. During this time as well, the band had to change their name due to it already being taken by the Flin