The Austin, TX based eight piece Latin funk/psychedelic rock collective Brownout loves to play dress up and this year for the Halloween season they released their second collection of Black Sabbath covers with their cosmic funk release of Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath Vol.2
Cover albums are strange beasts and usually disappointing as artists tend to hold the original tracks as scripture varying little from the sound/structure/tone of the artist they are reproducing/interpreting. The beauty of this collection is that the style of Brownout is pretty far removed from the doom and gloom of the original Birmingham 4-piece metal gods.
This being the second cover album from their alter ego Brown Sabbath they dig a bit deeper into the band’s catalog and spit out a few amazing efforts, some misfires and for the majority, a lot of solid reworkings.
One of the album’s best tracks is its opener “Supernaut” as the players shave almost two minutes off the original but increase the energy, flair and dynamics via punchy trumpets and driving percussion; keeping this instrumental is also a plus as it stands out from the original in a very positive light. The band actually adds a few minutes onto the group’s take of “Electric Funeral” which gets extra creepy behind a marching beat, wailing horns and screeching wah-wah guitar. The track really soars though when the band injects an almost rhumba beat to the chaos pushing Sabbath down to South Texas or even further.
“Fairies Wear Boots” begins scattershot before bringing in the dynamics of the original with power and aggression while “Sweet Leaf” becomes a perfectly natural funky fit with its huge crescendos and rumbling congas, same could be said for the huge closer “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. “Symptom of The Universe” is another cool offering, showing that Sabbath may not be so far removed from this bands comfort zone with tempo changes galore, thrashing riffs, and the odd light ending jam that made the original feel weird and unique when it was released back in 1975.
Where the band doesn’t succeed as well is when they adhere closely to the originals. Both “Snowblind” and “Children Of The Grave” are almost note for note reenactments with horns taking the place of guitars, even the vocals are eerily close to those of Ozzy. While perfectly passable covers, they play more as standard tributes than updates to be showcased on a release.
Overall though the group is clearly having a blast exploring their metal roots and the deep tracks of one of the best metal bands of all time. By bringing Black Sabbath into their Brownout world they have fused two things that probably don’t sound compatible on paper into a really cool sound for your ears and mind.