Sunday, October 4, 2015

Peter Steele stood a cowering 6'7'' tall, died in 2009 of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, most likely the result of cocaine abuse. Hailing from Brooklyn, achieving initial recognition in the late 80's for his hardcore band Carnivore, in the early 90's recruited rock musicians from his native Bensonhurst and formed Type O Negitive, co-writing with the keyboard-playing of Josh Silver and releasing on Roadrunner Records, they wiped out every alternative act of that era without major support from MTV networks or FM radio, the only band to challenge them was Tool.  Most people didn't know about that rivalry.  1996's October Rust is an important achievement for Metal, superior by every measure of commercial music production with the record engineering of Mike Marciano, Multiple Grammy award winning producer also hailing from Brooklyn.

Only die-hard fans would have purchased Life is Killing Me (2003.) It's a regression from their earlier aesthetic achievements, although conceptually still among the finest records to come out of New York City.  The album explores a dark romance ending in a failed sex-change procedure.  The songs "i don't wanna be me," "i like goils," "nettie," "eletrocute," "angry itch," are highlights, but Peter Steele's wailing and the cluttered mix are difficult to endure if you don't love Metal, not exactly disappointing though.  The thematic elements are gold, if they had scrapped the slower sections in the third quarter, it could have been the band's finest achievement.

The opening track: "i don't want to be me anymore," then "i like goils," is enough psychiatric information about transsexuals, the academic evidence suggesting transsexual is different than homosexual, a female brain in a male body.  The ballad "nettie" bares the complex moods of somebody suffering in such a way, and "electrocute" their dark overcoming.  The climax "angry itch" illuminates allegorical underpinnings.  Take lyrics from the title track: "life is killing me"


Doctors and thieves they both weak masks, overpaid, meet magicians: life is killing me  
 
I submitted at this point, medical science used no longer to diagnose and treat disease, used for some other purpose. In the 21 century, "reinventing yourself," web sites like Second Life where people can play out their social fantasies in a simulated environment.  Our liberty and our right to defy identity as coded by birth and instead, to re-orient ourselves into a new and un-galvanized system of status codes boasting equal opportunity, social mobility, promotion by merit: this was the American dream for many immigrants, seen no more clearly than in the grandchildren of Ellis Island, congested as they have been in local Brooklyn a century later.  Peter Steele is too cynical though.  Did he think New York City has become a failed sex change operation?  This would be the carrying through of any logic behind mediated self-adjustment: weird processes which amend nature by executing physical gender-alteration married to the perverse bane of capitalistic noodling in science.

Psychoanalyze that.  My diagnosis for why it wasn't their best record: they were afraid to take themselves too seriously in their 30's, as if they were being heckled, then using humor to defend themselves instead of ignoring it, ruined what might have been your favorite Metal L.P., They are grown men, after all.  It gets 3.5 stars.  October Rust is still their best, i give them respect for carrying on, "Life is Killing Me" is their second best, and death of Peter Steele is becoming a dark tale.   

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