Brownout presents Brown Sabbath
Ubiquity Records/Essex Music International
The strange world of the sincere – but playful – pastiche, the cover-album dressed up in novelty, the transporting of one musical world to a whole new genre or feel, it’ll always hook in the fans. But can it keep them? Here we have Brownout performing Brown Sabbath, that is a psych-rock band with horns offering Black Sabbath in deep, dark funk. How brown is their Sabbath? Well, there’s none more brown, natch.
There are some very good things here – including a cameo from The Black Angels’ Alex Maas – who sounds rather Ozzy-like in fact. As do the other bit-part vocal players, David Jimenez and Alex Marrero but as this, for the most part, rides along on a hipster-take on cumbia, a sort of Tex-Mex play on rootsy funk with occasional disco tinges, the album rather swiftly becomes dominated by lengthy instrumental passages. The playing is wonderful – and even if you think you’ve been plonked in the middle of a Ween show from time to time there’s only so much great straight-faced parody that can happen before these lines wind around themselves to eventually sound too much like the originals. A great riff-based piece like N.I.B. swirls with extra percussion but it really does just start to sound like the Sabbath song. A strange compliant maybe, but this is always the risk when the signature sound of a band is transposed – for all the colours this band wants to offer, brown starts to sound very black before too long, Brown Sabbath getting a little too close to Black Sabbath.
So this is fun – but not only is it no replacement the actual fun slips away as deeper into the album tunes like Black Sabbath and Hand of Doom just have you wanting the originals.