For a Northside Festival showcase over the weekend, the music book series 33 1/3 hosted a series of all-cover shows dedicated to three albums they’re written about. Deradoorian covered Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, Ava Luna covered Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, and Frankie Cosmos covered Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. We have videos from all three below.
Despite being hundreds of miles from any ocean, Burlington, Vermont has a plethora of surf-rock bands. Competition within the snow-surf scene must be fierce, and one band has taken on a novel side gig: covering Black Sabbath songs. The Ventures never quite got around to covering Ozzy and co, but the “Surf Sabbath” project shows that maybe they should have.
“Surf Sabbath came about from just simply having a passion for Black Sabbath and metal music in general,” guitarist Matt Hagen tells us. “It seemed to make sense once you recognize the similarities between surf guitar and metal guitar. Both have that fast/tremolo picking style guitar work.”
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
“War Pigs,” originally titled “Walpurgis” (defined as “Christmas for Satanists” by Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler), is the first track off Black Sabbath’s second studio album, 1970’s Paranoid, and is regarded by Guitar World magazine as the “greatest Heavy Metal song ever.”
The slow gravitational pulling power chord intro creates an atmosphere of an apocalyptic wasteland. The rolling darkness and muffled air-sirens continue until they are quickly halted with the most spine-tingling, D to E power chord transition in heavy metal history, not once, not twice, but thrice! Ozzy Osbourne gives us a piercing belt of “Generals gathered in their masses / just like witches at black masses,” and Toni Iommi continues the pattern after every Ozzy verse until Iommi’s power chords evolve into a wicked guitar riff. Bill Ward comes crashing in on drums, Geezer Buttler starts pounding his bass, and before you know it, you’ve bypassed “Luke’s Wall” (the song’s instrumental outro) and you’re riding shotgun with Lucifer on a thrill ride through hell.
Latin funkateers Brownout are currently gearing up to unleash the funk all over the back catalogue of metal legends Black Sabbath. They’d already teased us with ‘Paranoid’ album track ‘Hand Of Doom’, a song that originally sounded trip-hop-before-it-was-a-thing so which lent itself excellently to the twist the Austin outfit gave it.
Does it make sense that music school graduates who cut their teeth in jazz bands and are now in a band led by a guitarist who cites John Fahey as a major influence would cover Black Sabbath? Slothrust is that band, and their cover of “Electric Funeral” is faithful to the original while delivering the song with more energy and intensity than Black Sabbath did in 1970.
Fans of Slothrust may be used to their varied influences and assorted output. They also cover The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and have a video inspired by Britney Spears’ struggles with stardom. Set aside all the strangeness and Slothrust becomes a tight rock and roll band with droll vocals and just the right amount of guitar heroics. Watch them take on Black Sabbath below.
Find out more about Slothrust at their website.