It’s hard to believe that it was three decades ago that Type O Negative released the breathtakingly brilliant Bloody Kisses. This was a record that nobody was ready for. Perhaps that’s one the reasons it had such an impact.
From the oh-so-politically incorrect (at the time) album cover to the massive compression on bassist/vocalist Peter Steele‘s microphone to the single without a chorus, Bloody Kisses broke all the rules. But it was all those broken rules, along with the band’s vision that would propel the record to the classic status it has today.
For those of us in the hardcore scene in 90’s New York, we were already familiar with the band we once knew as Repulsion and their already legendary shows at venues like Brooklyn’s L’amour, Manhattan’s Ritz and Jersey’s City Gardens. Sharing the stage with other NYHC bands like Biohazard, Leeway, and the Cro-Mags, the band fit right in as they performed songs from their first record, Slow, Deep and Hard. We all really considered the band more hardcore than goth or metal in the very early 90’s. The band’s sound, while wider and more majestic than Steele’s earlier band, Carnivore, still was more nested in speed, power and raw emotion.
I was working in college radio when I first got a hold of Bloody Kisses. While I can lie like most folks and tell you I immediately fell in love with it, I won’t. I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. To be frank, I was still in shock from seeing the cover of the Origin of the Feces record that the station had just gotten in the year before. When I first heard Bloody Kisses I was taken aback. This wasn’t really a hardcore record. The sound had changed. I remember speaking to the band’s manager about it in September of 1993 and I wasn’t the only one. In fact, I was much more eager to hear the third Life of Agony demo (that just preceded the release of River Runs Red) that was being sent out later that fall by the band’s shared management.
Bloody Kisses, for many of us, was a grower if you can believe that. Sure, many folks will tell you otherwise – that they immediately knew it was destined to be a classic – but many in the scene simply didn’t. In fact “Black No. 1,” released as the first single didn’t gain a lot of traction upon it’s initial release. It was the follow-up, “Christian Woman,” which many of our peer radio stations wouldn’t play, that started the upward momentum. Roadrunner, thankfully, sent out a radio edit CD of “Christian Woman” to the stations so we could legally play it. But there was still push back, especially from those who were in more heavily Christian markets. The original nine-minute video for the track, which featured Peter as both a crucified Christ and a priest, didn’t help either.
The shorter, more professionally produced, second video shocked me when I actually saw it on MTV months after I first heard got the record. Of course, while it was a much more professional video, it had alternate lyrics and somewhat toned-down visuals. It also featured a drummer with shorter hair who I wasn’t familiar with at the time (Johnny Kelly).
“Bloody Kisses’” growth, just like the music contained within it, was a slow burn. We had to grapple with the record. There was so much going on in terms of the sounds, the lyrics, the images that came with the LP and the bizarre realization that we were hearing a Seals and Crofts cover (“Summer Breeze”) immediately followed by a song that featured a sitar (“Can’t Lose You”) and some closing lyrics about smoking pot that you could barely make out. It was something the Beatles might have done if they were heavier, drunker and from Brooklyn. It wasn’t hardcore. But I found myself appreciating it more than most of the hardcore records that were coming out that year.
“Black No. 1” also gained a great deal of traction, in part, because of the relentless marketing by the record label and rotation of the video on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Additionally, as the band toured heavily in 1994 with acts like Nine Inch Nails and Mötley Crüe (I know, right?), more listeners were introduced to mesmerizing and mind-blowing Type O Negative. “Black No. 1,” of course, is really where the band enters goth culture. Ironic considering the song is really about Peter making fun of it.
Sitting here 30 years later, I don’t think I’d be able to actually count how many times I’ve listened to Bloody Kisses, how many times I turned someone else on to Bloody Kisses, or how many times I’ve wished that Peter was still with us. It’s not one of those records that you only listened to when it came out. This record has stuck with me all this time. It has transcended relationships, jobs, and homes. It’s become part of the soundtrack to my life. Certain things happen in my life and one of the tracks from this record just pops into my head. At the same notion, Bloody Kisses is a record that can also take me to another place and time when I need to be somewhere else.
Whether or not Bloody Kisses is the band’s greatest record is something that will be debated for many decades to come as this band transcends time, trends and genre. For me, all of the band’s records are treasures. But I will say, that even after a long courtship, Bloody Kisses is the one that turned me on to Type O for life.
The post Thirty Years Ago, We Fell in Love with Type O Negative’s <em>Bloody Kisses</em> appeared first on MetalSucks.