Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ian Songs #8, In Praise of Bacchus

Inventive prose be damned, let's hit this like a fan: There are few litmus tests in metal like Type O Negative. Born from the ashes of underrated thrashers Carnivore and with enough balls to dive headfirst into a goth scene that had, and let's be honest now, peaked with the first few Christian Death albums, Type O gloriously lampooned their subject matter with a straight face, dedicating turgid doomers filled to the brim with ironic Beatlesque twists to high-school notebook fodder; death, sex, depression, death, Halloween, and death. On the surface, they exuded an ultra-serious vibe, but like all good metal, when you dug a little deeper, it played out like a nod and wink, a veiled punchline to be enjoyed by the discerning listener. So, like most Metal Mosi (Manowar, Darkthrone, and...well, shit, power metal and black metal in general), they parted the seas of listeners; those that believe in an oh-so sober intent and those that recognize the inherent ridiculousness of it all. Of course, there's a natural urge to push Type O into the realm of parody, and there's an awful lot of evidence that can be brought up as support (Almost all of it stemming from generously-dicked frontman Peter Steele), but the insanely well-written music pushes it past just a joke into Ween territory; loving pastiches. Case in point, In Praise of Bacchus.

From the band's most commercially viable album, October Rust, and one that features maybe their definitive song, Love You to Death, sits Praise. Melodic and with a wall-of-distortion guitar-sheen that is downright shoegazer-inspired, Bacchus couples Fab Four with Iommi, building to an insane climax that's surreal. It's moments like these that the band revels in, making you feel uncomfortable without the use of the grotesque, making you feel uneasy as a listener. But, then again, this ain't Wagner predilection for unresolved progressions, this is trading pop licks and then dropping back into metal at the turn of the dime. From either side of the spectrum, it just feels wrong. It's so seamless, though, that it gets lost underneath the waves of sound, burying in your subconscious the sense that we're dangerously off-kilter here. And then, there it is, an actual crescendo that is not frustratingly cut short, AND WITH LATIN NO LESS. To this day, and it's an album I've listened to every Halloween for a decade, I don't know whether to laugh or be blown away. That, in essence, is Type O Negative.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, listen to October Rust every October. Usually more than a few times. It is their strongest (and most commercially viable, as you said). I fucking love this album.

    Great song to pick! It's one of their most complex as you have so adroitly explained above.

    Generously-dicked... HAHAHA!

    Interesting side note. I met Mr. Steele when he came to play in Jackson, MS back in 1994 or 95. He is a big, tall, fucker. He was super nice and patient with the fan boys (myself included) that flocked to him after the gig and he had a great sense of humor. I actually saw him standing alone watching the opening act and asked him for an autograph. He was gracious and I thanked him profusely. He said no problem I hope you enjoy the show.