MELODIC MISERY FROM THE BAND THAT LIVES WHEN THE YEAR STARTS TO DIE
The most luscious, consistent and popular long player in Type O’s blackened back catterlog?
The most October-ly?
Without question. Pity we just missed the month, but no matter: October Rust is a mature stab at bucolic autumnal gloom that needs airing right now, if you haven’t done that already.
TON’s 1996 Roadrunner release, their fourth album, came off the back of a Bloody Kisses breakthrough which saw the Brooklyn greenmans reach new highs in pop culture, thanks to the MTV heavy rotator vid for Black No.1 (Little Miss Scare-All). ‘twas an impressive break, exposing the bigfella Steele and his crew to a new bunch of corruptibles.
That was in 1993. For October Rust, however, they stripped the most cartoonish excesses from their vamplified goth aesthetic – the self reference, the post-Carnivore thrashouts, the antagonistic call-outs – and opted instead for a long-player’s worth of the morose splendour they’d nailed on tracks like Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family). Octo-rust is Type-O’s pop album, not because the tunes are melodic (though they are) or short (nope) or danceably cheerful (AS FUCKING IF) but because, as a double-album spread, they’re as accessible a bunch of Type O tunes as you’re ever gonna hear. Type O Negative always had an ear for melody – they’re not called the Drab Four for nowt – yet still forged a sound unlike anyone else, and certainly not a derivative Sabbath-Beatles blend that the Drab moniker might suggest. Type O are just too damned Type O, even on an album like this… with a Steele-tipped pen at the helm, every album drips decadence, desolation and depression, often comically morbid.
Type O Negative: seasonal corrosion
Opening with exactly the kind of title you want from the dusk brothers (we’re skipping the first two transmissions), Love You to Death tinkles a genteel intro that disorients after the metallic sheen of Bloody Kisses – until, that is, the O-factor, all dry-bone fuzz and airless axe, rushes the joint and swells it to a fuller (dare we say affirming?) force that might, just might, be described as breezy. Layered and harmonied, it sets the direction for the whole record: expansive, mature even, but not at the expense of the Type O Negative lyrical experience. Love You to Death and Be My Druidess lay on the quintiss-exual lust ‘n black-lipstick tropes thick as ever, which may be why they’re on the fire side of the record (side 1 = fire, side 2 = water, side 3 = air, side 4 = earth).
Flipping over to the water side, we do get water, and it’s not clear: Red Water (Christmas Mourning). Doom slow and snowdrift heavy, it’s an O-Rust standout that lurks near the very peak of TON’s all-time least worst, and it would be almost funny if it weren’t so damned true:
My table’s been set for but seven
Just last year I dined with eleven
God damn ye
Written after the death of Steele’s father, it’s a typically wry reality check.
But, as is off’n the case when trudging the Type-O Way, we lurch from the morbid to the libidinous and so it is here as we plunge into the three-way fleshpit that is My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, all teasing goth organ (what???) and hammy vamp baritone that surely out-Sisters the Mercys for anthemic catchiness. Sleaze-o fun to the power three, My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend is Black No.1’s sticky knotty heir and it’s fucking brilliant.
Sticking with the non-sombre for a sec, what about the non-Type O? Having built a bit of a rep for doing cover perversions of classic tracks – Hey Joe recast as Hey Pete, Paranoid slowed to a death crawl and, weirdest of the lot, the Isley Brothers’ Summer Breeze reaching new lows in vocal delivery – it’s no surprise that a cover crops up in October, and it’s Neil rustman Young’s Cinammon Girl. Not the dirgesome count dragula you might have expected.
Getting back on the October trail, Burnt Flowers Fallen and Wolf Moon stretch the album’s airier vibe, with Wolf Moon perhaps the track that sounds most like it coulda been shovelled off Bloody Kisses – bit of a Christian Woman thing (sans blasphemous bed-sin), mebbe?
The last track on this 72-minute double is another top downer from the Negatives. Uber slow yet fragile too, Haunted could be dour-doleful-depressing over its 10-minute drift but somehow, it gets a lift – like Red Water before it – by sparse keys, though that lift might depend on your mood, bright or bleak. Whichever way you hear it, ’tis a fitting Big End whose heavy elegance restores balance after lighter weights like Green Man, and sinking into the Rust again after all these years it’s Haunted that stands strong.
So there we are: seasonal in scope and acoustic in attitude, October Rust’s twilight vibrations make it a must-play metallic/goth opus for this time of year, every year. In the Type O canon, it’s a one-off – next time out, they’d revert to grimmer tales and cap-H Heaviness for what is, in my view, the defining World Coming Down – that stands alone as their rustic outdoor soundtrack… dig it out, drag through dead leaves and remember:
‘Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism. We are the vandals.’
October Rust sleeve notes
October Rust on y’tube.