Late Thursday evening, nearly 24 hours after rumors of frontman Peter Steele's death started spreading like wildfire online, Brooklyn metallers Type O Negative have broken their silence on the 48-year-old singer and bassist's sudden passing. Steele's death rocked the metal world Thursday, with some doubting initial reports. But not only did the band confirm Steele died Wednesday of what appears to be heart failure, they revealed that the world almost had another Type O disc.

"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," the band's statement reads. "The official cause of death has yet to be determined pending autopsy results. The funeral services will be private and memorial services will be announced at a future date. We are truly saddened to lose our friend and appreciate the tremendous outpouring today from around the world."

Separately, the band members offered their tributes to Steele. Keyboardist Josh Silver acknowledged he had a love-hate relationship with Steele, and wrote that Peter "made life both interesting and irritating and I could not imagine not having known you for 37 years. It still isn't true in my mind but in time, I will miss you and the creating that we all endured together. We certainly disagreed constantly and I believe (and hope) we all learned from each other. Though I never told you that I harbor a deep respect for you, I do."

"Peter Steele was one of the most brilliant and funny personalities in music and it was all for real," wrote guitarist Kenny Hickey. "Half the time, people thought he was joking, but he was actually telling the truth. Part of me died with him."

Drummer Johnny Kelly recalled Steele, the friend. "You truly were a unique person. Your music touched many people. Myself included," he wrote. "Whether it was talking about The Beatles, power tools, how Pluto was no longer considered a planet or calling me at 3am asking me to drive to your house to have a fistfight with you, you always kept it interesting. It was a privilege to have been your bandmate. It's something that I will always cherish."

In another statement, Steele's family said the singer died "after a short illness" and added that "the music world has lost a great talent, and music fans worldwide are mourning, but for our family we are mourning a beloved brother, uncle, cousin, friend and funny man. Peter Steele was a complex man, known for his brooding looks, his self-deprecating sense of humor, unique view of the world, and most of all his loyalty to his fans, friends and family. Survived by five sisters, the eldest living sister notes that he was more than our brother, he was our son. His untimely death is tragic -- a great loss to us and to music."

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