Brownout – Brown Sabbath

Brownout – Brown Sabbath

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I am always a little sceptical when it comes to tribute albums. Most of these in the past have been of bands doing carbon copies of original tracks which are okay but can get monotonous. A couple of exceptions to the rule have been Black Sabbath tribute Nativity in Black Volume 1 & 2 and a fantastic Deep Purple tribute A Tribute to Deep Purple According to New York. This album by Brownout joins those two greats. Brownout is an 8/9 piece hard funk band from Austin Texas formed from various bands since the mid to late nineties. The Blimp and The Blue Noise Band merged to form Grupo Fantasma in 2000. This band supported acts such as Prince, Sheila E and Spoon. During the mid 2000’s Adrian Quesada suggested forming another funk band called Brownout. This was to have fun playing covers influenced by Sanatna, Earth Wind and Fire etc. This led to a residency at an Austin club where they played various cover sets. But during this residency it became apparent that everyone in the band had a love for Black Sabbath. Every member of the band owned at least one Sabbath album. From this a set was arranged and went down an absolute storm every night in the club. Due to the success an EP was released early 2014 featuring hard funk/rock versions of The Wizardand Hand of Doom. Now this full length seven track album has been released. Four of the tracks have vocals supplied by Alex Maas on Hand of Doom, Alex Marrero on NIB & The Wizard and David Jimenez on Planet Caravan.

You mustn’t think this is just a funk album, it rocks. A horn section, Latin Percussion and rocking guitar riffs interprets the Sabbath tracks expertly but in a Brownout style.The album starts off with The Wizard. Instead of Tony Iommi’s guitar riff a funky horn section kicks off the track. Then a guitar riff comes in on top of the horns, which fills the sound coming out of the speakers to the power of heavy metal. Alex Merrero then gets his Ozzy on. Wow! The middle section has a groovy, funky horn solo with a guitar riff meandering in the background. The track then ends in a volume of noise.

Iron Man is next. Guitar riff with samba rhythms fires the track off. This transports me back to watching Shaft in the early seventies. The middle section has a totally different arrangement. Horns and bongos melt together so well. It all ends in a seventies funk-rock style. Where is my afro!? NIB follows. A metal riff fires the track off. Alex Merrero supplies funky vocals throughout. Cool middle section guitar solo gives the track a cool punch in the gut. Then it all ends in a funky trippy style. Black Sabbath starts with a Mr Iommi sounding riff backed by the horns which turns into a spooky quieter section. When this was played at volume it sent shivers down my spine. The track ends in a crescendo of guitar and horns. Speechless!

http://youtu.be/WnwfTTlUPrk

If Black Sabbath formed in Austin or New Orleans would they have sounded like this?

Next are Hand of Doom and Into the Void. Haunting vocals by Alex Maas on Hand of Doom fills the track with doom and destruction. With awesome spaced out guitar solos and a killer ending it leaves you wanting more.Into the Void is one of my favourite Sabbath tracks of all time and Brownout have not let me down. That’s all I will say. Love it.

The album closer is Planet Caravan. The track is totally different and is a longer arrangement than the original. It has a different vibe to the rest of the album, with more haunting vocals, this time by David Jimenez; maracas in the background overlaid by a light electric guitar which then ramps up into a Santanaesk loud solo, wow! The music finally comes back down to earth with a tearful close. I was in bits, no joke, so moving.

“Brownout have produced an album of power, feeling and emotion which shows have much they respect Sabbath”

On reflection Brownout have produced an album of power, feeling and emotion which shows have much they respect Sabbath as a band. The album is expertly produced by Brownout themselves. I must admit the music sounded out of this world pumping through my Tannoy speakers. They have respected the might of Sabbath through every track, even with them using their own style of music. The feeling and emotion is the same as Sabbath brought to the metal world in their early career, which was due to their tough upbringing in the Midlands area of Birmingham during the sixties. Many Latin music artists come from areas of the same ilk and this shows on this album. I hope Brownout arrange a British release for this album soon.

It is only available on import from the States at the moment. My review was based on both vinyl and cd editions. Vinyl won hands down for me. Don’t be frightened of this album Rocker’s, it rocks as well as it funks. If you can get hold of a copy buy it and be absorbed into a different world.

Get yourself over the pond for a tour guys!

Words: Brian Baldie Mclean

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