Thursday, July 3, 2014

Under the Covers: Black Sabbath

Welcome to the first installment of "Under the Covers!" To the slew of obviously unsatisfied women who approached me under the assumption that this was a column in which Masterlord SteelDragon would divulge his mysterious and arcane love-making secrets, you have my sincerest steel apologies. I'm actually going to be talking about song covers, but that doesn't mean this can't be a sensual experience. Relax, and let's get started.

Before I get any further, let me just say this: I have a deep respect and love for High Riffmaster Tony Iommi and his stupid ass shade-glasses. That being said, there is something I love far, far greater than he. That is crushing my opposition underfoot and quelling the defiant. Our other author's affection for Black Sabbath (read as: fanboyism) may very well be unrivaled by all except Douchelord Osbourne himself. For this reason I have resolved to devote this segment to disparaging them. Here are three Black Sabbath covers that are better than their original counterparts. Enjoy or despair.

1. Ulver - Solitude

By 1998, after recording two undisputed classics in Bergtatt and Nattens madrigal, Ulver decided they were kinda bored with pioneering black metal and roamed robe-clad into uncharted ambient realms. Their take on "Solitude" fits right in on their excellent 2007 release, Shadows of the Sun. Ulver's mastery of dense atmosphere manages to evoke a level of forlorn hopelessness that Black Sabbath couldn't achieve. The decision to swap out the flute in favor of saxophone was a nice touch; it flourishes dream-like over the ambiance. Kristoffer Rygg's layered, reverb-drenched vocals echo over the desolate soundscape and are a welcome change from Ozzy's insufferable crowing. What? Shut up, he's annoying. The dude sounds less like a heartbroken man singing an ode to loneliness and more like an old lady with Alzheimer's who just can't remember where she put the tapes of her favorite programs. "Everything I possessed - now they are gone!"

2. Havok - Children of the Grave

Face it, these lyrics are bad. They're dumber than all the haircuts in the FIFA World Cup combined. Lyrics this bad belong in one of two places: the secret diary of a low I.Q. sixth-grade flower child, or thrash metal. The light-hearted stylings of Havok provide the appropriate environment for such poetry, while Ozzy "take-myself-super-seriously" Osbourne makes it sound contrived. Yes, that's his real middle name.

3.Týr - I

Ok, this one is cheating because it's not actually better than the original. Why? Because the original was sung by Ronnie James Dio, whose involvement makes it unequivocally metal by default. It's like the Midas touch, except instead of gold, everything touched by his mighty metal hand turned into glorious shining steel. Still, this version holds it own. The harmonies added to the chorus only supplement its majesty and power. Plus, there's something about a leather-clad Viking belting "I'LL SMASH YOUR FACE IN, BUT WITH A SMILE" that makes me really believe him. 

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