Formed in 1989, New York’s Type O Negative played a modern blend of doom and Gothic metal. In 1996, the band released its fourth full-length studio album, October Rust (Roadrunner Records), whose first single was “Love You to Death,” originally released in August 1996. This single was followed by releases of “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend,” “In Praise of Bacchus,” and a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” October Rust would go on to achieve Gold certification.
Musically, the song opens with a pronounced piano riff with layered keyboard serving as a lush background, both of which are courtesy of Josh Silver. As Peter Steele’s low-end vocals begin to weave the tale, the piano continues to burn, until at length Johnny Kelly’s percussion, Steele’s buzzsaw bass, and Kenny Hickey’s guitar kick in. The bass establishes a solid line of its own, over which the guitar interweaves its own distinct riffs and rhythms Steele fades back a little, letting the keyboards accompany his voice, all the while the guitar chugging along until the keys take center stage, with the bass always in the background. The song’s chorus is lush and layered, with background vocals—among them Steele’s baritone pushed upward—leading to a momentary piano rhythm countered by keyboards and the ever-present bass lick. The song then chugs to its natural conclusion, with Steele’s final lament complemented by interweaving keyboards and guitar that are cut off once the song is done.
Lyrically, Peter Steele uses the nature of darkness and fear to build a classic Gothic romance, one filled at the beginning with the usual trappings and then quickly deviating into the bestial nature of sexuality and the despondence of aching to achieve while lingering, omnipresent doubt casts its hideous shadows upon actual performance.
The song begins with a charged atmosphere, with the flames of lust taking the form of “100 candles burning” as a woman, bathed in sweat, begins a sexual seduction on her man to unleash his inner beast. The man quickly succumbs to her wishes, in effect becoming her slave, so that he may unleash his inner beast so that he can in turn unleash the beast within her. A hint of Crowley appears in the line “your wish is my law,” exposing “love under will,” which will catch hardcore fans off guard. The concept of “love you to death” is achieving a female orgasm, which is also known as the “little death” or “la petite mort.” As with many of Steele’s songs, there is self-doubt in achieving such as passionate goal, so in this song the doubt comes to the forefront at the end, with the man wondering if he is good enough for her. Very few have achieved such lust, romance, raw sexual tension, and sadness as Steele does with “Love You to Death.”
On April 14, 2010, Peter Steele passed away as a result of heart failure. The remaining members of the band announced in November 2010 that Type O Negative would not continue.