Hymns In Praise Of The Sabbath: Top 10 Black Sabbath Covers
October 9, 2011
This is an article about the best cover versions of songs written by none other than Black Sabbath. Not only were they the first band to be tagged with the moniker “heavy metal,” toured and recorded since 1968 starting out with the title Earth (hence where the band Earth got their name from) and having had thousands among thousands of bands and artists to take influence from them, so much that there are genres such as “sludge metal,” “stoner metal,” doom metal,” oh and another little genre we know as “heavy metal,” that were made not only to draw influence but quite often taking their sound and style and seeing how they could play it through their own hands of doom.
Having oh so briefly stated the impact and influence they have had on music, it is safe to say that thousands of bands have covered their songs… Mostly in bars I imagine, however, there are some covers I’ve heard that absolutely stand out, and must be heard by any true worshipper of the sabbath. Grindcore bands such as Anal Cunt and Brutal Truth have covered their songs, doom/stoner metal bands like Eyehategod, Acid Bath, and Orange Goblin of course played their share of hymns in praise of the sabbath. There has even been a cover by the dark ambient/dub-step band Scorn and jam bands such as Tea Leaf Green, Gov’t Mule, and Widespread Panic have covered their songs. More mainstream bands, Biohazard, Faith No More, White Zombie, System of a Down, Megadeath, Metallica, and Godsmack have covered their songs as well. It would be futile, pointless, and a drastic waste of time to count all of the metal, punk, sludge, and rock bands that have covered their songs; however, in this review I will list what I feel from my personal listening perspective are the best, truest, and most relevant covers of Black Sabbath that have been recorded.
1. Kyuss “Into the Void” – This, to me, is the best sabbath cover of all time for a good number of reasons; one being that it actually gave something to the song it never had before which is great production value. They all stayed very true to the the style in which Black Sabbath themselves played, while still expressing themselves musically in the jammy part they added in the break-down where they brought in some hand-drums. It’s hard to admit, but I like this version as much if not more than the original.
2. Sleep “Snowblind” – Who better than Sleep to play a sabbath song? The band described as playing “the best riffs sabbath never wrote.” In this little rendition of the song, despite the lack of recording quality, I have to say I enjoy hearing better than the original, probably and simply because it’s SO MUCH heavier, a bit slower, and Matt Pike’s double-tracked guitar is always divine as it very much is in this sacred theme about addiction.
3. Pantera “Planet Caravan” – While they also did the best cover I’ve heard of “Hole In The Sky”, as well as, “Electric Funeral”, I feel this recording deserves a lot of credit. This is one of those songs that when it comes on, everyone in the room just stops talking and if you’re still in-tune with yourself enough to look, you’re liable to see hairs on arms and necks stand up. It is literally blasphemy to think that you could re-create a recording of this song that lives up to the original, however, in this case it’s more like prayer.
4. Goatsnake “Who Are You” – This is an amazing cover! I was speechless when I first discovered this, I still sort of am. Goatsnake‘s performance of this is not only flawless, but it’s paramount. It is equally droning and in the middle section where the synthesizers were in the original they have instead used what appears to me to be a viola. Keep in mind this is a band who once said in a liner note that they endorsed sabbath riffs along with the typical sludge factor of sunn amps because they wanted the best sound.
5. Electric Wizard “Hand Of Doom” – This band has covered a whole slew of sabbath songs live over the years, but none have they performed with so much heart and soul. Once again, we have a hymn plagued with the topic of drug-addiction, Electric Wizard are well-known to sing about drug use. To me, I can almost hear the suffering of some sort of detox in the vocals on this recording. Electric Wizard, furthermor,e proves to us that this song is more than music, that it is also one of the only remedies known for addiction.
6. Cathedral “Solitude” – This is a band that never fails to impress, covering a band that never fails to amaze. I enjoy Lee Dorian’s vocals more so than Ozzy’s on this recording, I think it’s the double-tracking of the vocals that does it for me. The music does keep a sufficient enough ambiance and tranquility to maintain more than a worthy cover of this song that never fails to make a single person a little sadder than they were before they listened to it.
7. Gov’t Mule “War Pigs” – When I first heard this I thought it would be horrid, but it’s actually a great cover of the song. We have to remember back before there were “jam bands”, there were still bands that jammed such as Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, and of course Black Sabbath. So it’s only natural that a jam band would play an old jam song. Since the mule’s lyrical content is quite often of a socio-political nature, the song fits right in with their jammy hard blues-rock set.
8. Anthrax – “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” – This one made on because this is by far one of the most aggressive, disgruntled, and angry songs sabbath ever did and Anthrax being as heavy as they are, are sure to make an emphasis on that which I feel is a nice complement to the music. Also, the fact of Joey Belladona’s voice being so high-pitched made it a natural song to sing that would of usually been a task for most any singer.
9. Corrosion Of Conformity “Lord Of This World” – Not the best, but certainly not the worst cover version of the song. A lot of bands have covered this, most of the cooler bands having recorded it live or with lo-fi production. This version has a great production quality, is true to the sabbath version, yet still the band has their own mark on it which is a mark that I feel is definitely great.
10. Kelly Osbourne “Changes” – We all have to give Kelly props, kudos, brownie points or whatever you’d like to call it, keep in mind she is the daughter of “The Prince Of Darkness” which would technically make her heir to throne as “The Princess Of Darkness.” She tried doing a sabbath song, it was good but it wasn’t what everybody wanted to hear; however, I think she did a great job and this song wasnt what everybody wanted to hear from master sabbath at the time either. All criticism aside though, it was a great sentiment, tribute, appreciation, as well as a co-relation from herself to her father Ozzy “Fucking” Osbourne. It’s also a great way to appreciate the band that started it all Black Sabbath.