Peter Steele And Me

Peter Steele

As I sit on April 14th, yet again mourning the loss of Type O Negative’s Peter Steele, and reliving the sorrow that I will never get to see this monolithic band on stage, ever, on the 10th anniversary of Peter’s passing, I felt I should add some words of my own, to the floods of tributes already paid, to a literal giant of the alternative music scene.

The first time I truly recall the work of Type O Negative in my life, was a feature in Kerrang, with a beginner’s guide to their work (which was an excellent feature and I think they should’ve kept up, and unless the well ran dry, someone else could really monetise this premise), highlighting their 15 best songs, and the albums you should purchase. Although my love of music had not yet blossomed to its fullest strength, track names, album titles, and finer details quietly seeped into my brain of this newly acquired band, and did not awaken until three or so years later. That being in a time where music streaming and YouTube were still in their embryonic stages, and as a teen with little money, mp3 samples on online retail outlets, and the use of LimeWire, were my common practices to cherry pick and obtain the music I wanted to listen to. Yet I didn’t make the first step. My brother did.

My brother, head deep into his emo phase at this time, scoped out and sourced various different, often provocative, bands and songs from LimeWire, put them on an iPod, or played directly from his laptop, and that music permeated out of his bedroom door seven days a week, right up until he slept. One such song he played was Dead Again, taken from the titular album around the time of its release, and while it never initially gripped me, rotations over months and a huge love for thrash metal, brought pleasure when it belted out from his speakers. I eventually asked for the song to listen to myself, and in that moment, triggered the memory of that Kerrang article, and the song titles I should seek if I wanted to hear more. Unbeknownst to me, my brother did also have this song himself, but Wolf Moon, acclaimed to be the best song they had written by whomever was in charge of that article, was the song I next listened to, and it tore open an entirely new realm of music to me.

There was something about that bone-grinding bass tone against the backdrop of ethereal gloom, the keys alone scratching that 80s itch I’d later become obsessed with, but his ungodly bellow, reaching from a place of pain yet staggeringly melodic, totally floored sixteen year old me. How could something sound so gargantuan, melancholic, and beautiful at the same time? My first encounter with Wolf Moon did precede becoming better acquainted with Sabbath’s back catalogue, but in those six minutes of head-crushing bliss, a world where Ozzy and Paul McCartney went for a sad drink in the pub, and wrote songs together, made absolute sense. I wholeheartedly defend Wolf Moon as the best song ever written about giving head to a girl on her period.

Wolf Moon became somewhat of a staple in what was a meek offering of my musical tastes, but my love and fascination with Peter Steele and Type O Negative never truly took off until Spotify sprung into existence. I had already owned Dead Again in full by this time, but the true birth of music streaming, enabled me to experience so much more of what was Type O’s darker, heavier, and often deeply hilarious universe. You can take countless examples through out their career on what is considered as the funniest Type O song, but mine remains September Sun from Dead Again, while an excellent song in its own right, it almost exists solely to be a upbeat pastiche of November Rain. The Drab Four was perhaps an astute term befitting their music, but it cannot be understated just how funny this band were, attached or separated from their art.

With firm adoration established, the very harsh reality that I could never experience them live began to set in. No chilling rendition of Love You To Death. No deafening chants of Black No.1. No tongue-in-cheek pomp of My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend. No venue-trashing frenzy from I Don’t Wanna Be Me. That particular space in my head to fill with being in the same room with another of my favourite bands, will forever remain a void, and hollow.

Peter Steele, a man whose lore and public perception paints him as one of the nicest people to grace alternative metal, who battled his own demons and vices for decades, and perhaps in a final hope, turned back to Catholicism in his last years, before his body succumbed to the damage that had been done to it. A larger than life person and personality that could never take to the stage again. Especially in an age where the veil surrounding mental health is gradually dissipating, his demeanour and conduct was always that of a magnetic and wildly entertaining songwriter and individual. Were he still alive, could things have been any different? Perhaps, but with so many warming accounts, archive footage, and of course his incredible back catalogue, to ponder that what if scenario only does an injustice to the memories of those who met him, and were touched by his music. A man who by his twilight years came in touch with his own mortality, and despite not following so many parallels with, I felt a genuine human connection to.

The greatest example I can offer you is a lengthy interview with the often considered divisive Juliya, which is still one of my favourite videos I revisit, in which her closing question to the band is ‘How would you like to die?’ The vast majority of the interview is jovial in tone and while the rest of the band answers in the same light-hearted manner, Peter answers with the following, could be considered sobering, statement:

‘How would I like to die? It wouldn’t really matter, so long as I made a difference in the world.’

Every April 14th, I’m reminded of these words as a moral code to abide by, in the hope I can one day get closer to that goal of feeling like I too can make a difference before I shuffle off the mortal coil. It seems fitting that Peter admired Rasputin, a historical figure who famously couldn’t die, because for the influence he has had on my life, and countless others, as a musician and as a true innovator, he too, will surely never die in the hearts of music fans either.

Thank you, Peter.

Rest in peace.

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The Soundshark Artist of the Year 2016 – Mr.Kitty

While this is the very first of the end of year posts for this site and officially the first time anything like this has been on the site before, it gives me great pleasure and happiness to write a piece, giving a greater emphasis on an artist that has been a constant for this year. Limitations are boring and if locking a piece like this solely to any artist’s accomplishments in one year, it doesn’t grant the necessary freedom to write something engaging enough. So take this as a love letter to the one artist or group of artists whose music has been cherished through thick and thin this year, and would like to dedicate this year’s piece to self-proclaimed ‘suicidal synth-pop’ artist Forrest Avery LeMaire a.k.a. Mr.Kitty.

If you want to talk about 2016 for Mr.Kitty, then it hasn’t been as active as past years. Despite playing numerous shows over in the States, we were expecting what was to be Mr.Kitty’s sixth album in as many years to be released in October, making him certifiably in the conversation as one of synth-pop’s hardest working artists around. Sadly but understandably, the album was put on hold until next year as health concerns became a priority into the latter half of the year. But that does not speak for the quality of the music that Mr.Kitty has produced over his six-year plus lifespan as a recording artist. Far from it.

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Credit: Doug Schwarz Photography

Channeling the mechanical heart of classic 80’s electronica and the drum machines of the great original goth movement, into chilling dreamscapes and darkened dancefloors, narrated by the oft distorted and reverb-drenched lullabies and shrieks of Forrest; the output of Mr.Kitty is an emotional outpouring of a vulnerable soul against an array of unforgettable analogue synth dialects. His first four albums form part of a quadrilogy of works known as the Dark Youth collection, spanning both light and darkness which broadcasts and touches upon many subject matters in that time frame, moving and macabre. It also serves as the perfect window or measuring post to show how much Mr.Kitty has grown and matured as an artist. But every release is its own separate universe, with its own atmosphere and a complete anthology of melodic masterpieces.

Arguably the greatest of his works is Dark Youth’s final installment Time, which although is one of the darker albums of that collection, is uncompromising in its vision, truly emanating the rawest feelings of every song, no matter how black its subject matter. How so many of these songs contain the musings of a mind much darker than you can imagine, but are entangled in some of the most memorable synth-pop written this decade is a true wonder and testament to Mr.Kitty’s abilities as a songwriter, let alone a fascinating juxtaposition. Although we have had snippets of a new album this year, how Forrest has tirelessly spun such outstanding retro-contemporary electronic webs together year after year is commendable. Each one is more enchanting and enrapturing than the next, and there is absolutely no hesitation in saying that everything that Mr.Kitty has created is consistently among the best music heard all year.

So if Mr.Kitty does get to read this, thank you so much for your music, with love and kind regards,

The Soundshark

Five Essential Mr.Kitty tracks:





The vast majority of everything Mr.Kitty has ever produced can be found on his Bandcamp page, and if it can’t be found there, then it can be found on his Soundcloud page instead. Though unconfirmed, a 2017 release window is pencilled in for A.I., to be Mr.Kitty’s next album of which this site will take great interest in. You can shop here if you are in need of any t-shirts or the likes in the near future.

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Eyes Of The Nightmare Jungle

There’s a stage in life, where I wish I were able to understand or sympathise with, where decades after establishing a band, making music, recording albums and seeing a little of the world before posthumously calling it quits, you can look back with a fondness on what you once did. General sensations such as hindsight and nostalgia are a similar thing, but I’m not a musician, so I can’t experience the same feelings associated with once having a short-lived band that had a mild success story. If your name is Russell Webster however, and you were the mastermind behind once one of the most influential independent recording studios in the country, and a cult status electro-goth rock band with notable club hits in central Europe, it’d be an achievement to be proud of. What Russell is now known for however is his work as a voiceover artist, having lent his voice to audio book and self-guides, on a one man crusade to make the world a better place. But what I admire from the small amount of research I’ve done, is that he is refreshingly honest about the success of his band Eyes Of The Nightmare Jungle. He claims that they bombed after their second album because they decided to be too clever, but in my opinion, they may have been a bit ahead of their time. Eyes Of The Nightmare Jungle are for the best part, your archetypical goth rock band taken very much from the 80’s, drum machine, heavily distorted guitars, grinding basslines to make the earth tremble, booming spoken word that later expands into gang chants, keyboard hooks that sit on top of the brain. But despite a sound getting on for thirty years old, it sounds like it hasn’t aged a day. In select circles, their calling card Shadow Dance is a club staple and it’s easy to understand why. From the effects-soaked chords of the beginning, leading in the endearing programmed beats and the haunted wail of the keyboard, there’s an overflow of deliciously dark melodies and smoke-filled atmosphere across the five minutes, that wrap you head-first into the spider’s lair and injects you with a euphoria, designed for the dancefloor. That keyboard, or guitar line, I’m not entirely sure which, is also worth its own mention, for in each appearance is a shimmering. delightful breeze that despite its twanginess, adds a real extra dimension to the track and the sheer infectiousness of it, elevates it beyond just being another streamlined goth floorfiller. Eyes Of The Nightmare Jungle were class songwriters, and with a producer at the top of his game at the helm of the project, it’s incredible to hear that it hasn’t aged a day since 1988. What’s more outstanding, is the appeal and allure that their excellent back catalogue awakens from not just the most hardy of all gothic fans, but from a much wider musical audience too.

Because we’re talking a band from over three decades ago that never had real mainstream recognition, you’d expect them not to have the latest and greatest in music dispensing tools. But digital and occasional physical copies of their work can be obtained at most respectable music retailers still, if this intrigues you as such.

Go give them a like on social media:

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