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Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Non-Immortality: R.I.P. Peter Steele (1962-2010)



Everything dies -- as goth-metal titans Type O Negative have been reminding us in some form or another since 1991 debut album Slow, Deep, and Hard. But as inured to the concept as Type O fans might be, yesterday marked a pretty heavy world-coming-down day, when we learned that frontman Peter Steele passed away on April 14.

In an email to CBS News, band manager Mike Renault wrote:  "As of now it appears to have been heart failure. That's all the details we have right now." Steele was only 48. What makes his death all the more tragic is that after years of hard living, he'd recently made some major life changes. From a statement on TypeONegative.net: "Ironically Peter had been enjoying a long period of sobriety and improved health and was imminently due to begin writing and recording new music for our follow up to 'Dead Again' released in 2007."

And as much as we wanted it to be, this was no macabre gag -- unlike the sarcastic "Peter Steele: Free at last" tombstone graphic that graced Type O's website in 2005, fueling untrue rumors that Steele had died. (Instead, as 2006 DVD Symphony for the Devil revealed, he was locked away in Riker's Island jail and "the psych ward at Kings County Hospital," both stints related to substance abuse.)

When the news of Steele's death hit, we felt compelled to re-watch his interview with Montreal hardcore news outlet Hardtimes.ca, in which he talks about going sober and getting religion, while good-naturedly machine-gunning the interviewer with his famously dark, deadpan comedy patter. When we first saw this clip back in 2009, we were struck by Steele's candor; now the whole thing is painfully poignant. (Hearing him say "It just sickens me how much time I've wasted" is nothing short of gut-wrenching.)

Regarding his most recent touring efforts, Steele remarked: "People have been telling me I sound much better, and that I've been playing much better." And it was true. The last show Type O played in the Boston area, at Rock & Shock 2009, was phenomenal. That night, Steele put on the best performance we'd seen from him in years. It was one hell of a note to go out on.


Peter Steele singing "Love You To Death" in NYC for Type O's Halloween 2009 tour

This Peter Steele deep cut has been running through our heads ever since we got the bad news. More lullaby than dirge, it's exactly what we need to hear right now -- and maybe you do, too:

DOWNLOAD: Peter Steele, "Go To Sleep" (with Kat Bjelland) [MP3 links]

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