Brownout bandleader and guitarist Adrian Quesada listened to a lot of different music, including blood-curdling heavy metal monsters Black Sabbath, while growing up in South Texas. Even while creating original music more reflective of their Mexican and American funk, blues and rock roots, he and his bandmates never lost their taste for Britain's Sabbath. Their first album of Sabbath covers, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath (2014, Ubiquity) was acclaimed by both NPR, who named it one of that year's fifty best releases; and Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, who invited the band to perform at an Ozzfest gig in Mexico and was quoted raving, "It's fucking awesomethis fucking Mexican guy sounds just like me!"
"When we recorded Volume I, we had only played a couple of live shows, and it was a very new thing," Quesada now recalls. "We've grown as a live band and gained a new level of confidence and ownership over what we do with Black Sabbath. It was important to capture another moment in time showing the band's development and stamp on the music."
"Stomp on the music" is more like it, thanks to dynamite contributions from trombonist and horn arranger Mark Gonzalez, dual guitarists Quesada and Beto Martinez, and a rhythm section that fully plumbs Sabbath's deep, powerful originals into a pulsating, unrelenting groove.
"Fairies Wear Boots" quietly starts with percussion but electric guitar and horns quickly accelerate the pedal to (heavy) metal speed. The horns nearly pop out of the mix while guitars and drums lead the ensemble deeper into its bone-cutting groove; the lead guitar solo screeches psychedelic and nasty, and supporting percussion steers the hard-driving rhythm toward Latin funk. Horns punctuate the spaces between the heavy, slow-moving chordsand all the anxious, frustrated and helpless feelings of addictionin "Snowblind."
Brownout thrashes "Symptom Of The Universe" with a piledriver beat and buzzsaw guitars that seek out and destroy the gap between heavy and speed metalbut it also features two swivel-hipped percussion/horn breakdowns which sound like a laid-back low rider cruising down a sunny LA thoroughfare. The closer "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" culminates in a scalding cauldron of Latin percussion and heavy metal hooks, shooting off exploding sound like a machine gun emptying all its chambers before resting in silence.
Main vocalist Alex Marrero admirably captures Ozzy's "teetering on the edge of sanity" style while guest vocalist Aaron Behrens (from Ghostland Observatory) sounds more intent on channeling Ronnie James Dio's gothic, mythical approach.
"For us, Black Sabbath always had such a bounce to it that comes from the era where you hear jazz, soul, blues and funk influences in heavy rock music, and that lends itself well to a band like us whose primary influences are from the late '60s and early '70s," Quesada concludes. "Black Sabbath is sinister and heavy, but rhythmically really similar to a lot of what we play."
Supernaut; Snowblind; Symptom Of The Universe featuring Aaron Behrens; Fairies Wear Boots; Children Of The Grave; Electric Funeral; Sweet Leaf; Sabbath Bloody Sabbath featuring Aaron Behrens.
Brownout: Alex Marrero: vocals; Adrian Quesada: electric guitar; Beto Martinez: electric guitar; Greg Gonzalez: electric bass; John Speice: drums, timbales, percussion; Mathew "Sweet Lou" Holmes: congas, bongos, percussion; Gilbert Elorreaga: trumpet; Mark "Speedy" Gonzales: trombone, horn arrangements; Josh Levy: baritone sax; with Aaron Behrens: lead vocals ("Symptom of the Universe," "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"); Dan Bechtoldt: tenor sax.