Peter Steele of heavy metal band Type O Negative has died of heart failure at age 48. Steele (born Petrus Ratajczyk), the burly 6'7" bassist and lead vocalist of the Brooklyn goth-metal band, formed Type O in the early '90s after stints in several other groups, including the hardcore act Carnivore.

A spokesperson for Type O bandmates Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly confirmed the report to MTV News on Thursday (April 15). And according to CBS News, band manager Mike Renault sent an e-mail saying, "Peter passed away last night. As of now it appears to have been heart failure. That's all the details we have right now."

The band's most recent label, SPV/Steamhammer Records, issued an online statement about Steele's passing. "It's with great sadness that we give our condolences to the family and friends of Peter Steele," it read. "He died on April 14th, 2010. With his bands Carnivore and Type O Negative he achieved cult status and was loved by fans around the world. ... The world has lost a charismatic frontman and a very talented person. Our condolences go to Peter's family, friends and the members of his bands."

Fuse metal hostess Mistress Juliya (Juliya Chernetsky) tweeted about the news on Wednesday. "Today is a very sad day in metal ... end of an era ... Peter Steele passed today," she wrote. "I loved my friend ... our idol ... my heart is with his band and family."

Blabbermouth.com, a site run by the band's former label, Roadrunner Records, also reported that Type O keyboardist Josh Silver had confirmed that Steele died on Wednesday. The label's staff posted a lengthy remembrance of Steele on Thursday.

A rumor circulated that Steele had died in 2005, but that turned out to be a publicity stunt to promote their new record, making it difficult to assess the validity of this latest report. The earlier rumor sprung from an image of a tombstone with his name and the dates 1962-2005 that was briefly posted on the band's Web site but then removed. Steele reportedly suffered from clinical depression, reflected in the band's doom-laden lyrics, dark image and an often morbid sense of humor.

Type O released seven studio albums, with their most recent being 2007's Dead Again.