Brown Sabbath

Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath

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On their fourth full-length, Brownout, Austin's proto-Latin funk rock monsters, take on the music of Black Sabbath and do what they do best: innovate. This set was a result of the band trying to break up a long club engagement by offering something new for its audience each week -- entire nights were devoted to covering the works of a single artist. Fans bought in wholesale. Taking this to the studio and trying to re-create that vibe is riskier, but the payoff is just as big. While playing Sabbath tunes has become almost de rigueur for 21st century bands, no one has ever made them sound like this. Bandleader Adrian Quesada and arranger Mark "Speedy" Gonzales use the band's three-piece horn section to deliver Tony Iommi's guitar parts. They are big, noisy, ugly, and nasty. Add the multi-part percussion section and a fuzzed-out bass -- this may not be as elastic as the original but it's every bit as fuzzed-out and beefy -- and you have one of the "heaviest" party records of the last decade. Brownout wisely mix vocal interpretations -- "The Wizard," "N.I.B.," "Hand of Doom," and "Planet Caravan" (by three different singers) with blistering instrumental reads of "Iron Man," "Black Sabbath," and "Into the Void." Sabbath's music lends itself surprisingly well to the layered, multivalent percussion and brass because its riffs are so enormous. Track lengths in most cases run close to the originals, with the lone exception of "Planet Caravan," which almost doubles the BS version without resorting to endless noodling or repetition to get there. The charts are so ingenious, the production and sound so grimy and intense, the rhythms so meaty and infectious, Brownout Presents Black Sabbath is not only a musically savvy exercise in interpretation, but an irresistible, butt-shaking, groove-quaking bacchanal through and through.

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