The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, July 11, 2014, Music

In 2000, a German producer under the guise of Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto released El Baile Alemán, an album's worth of tongue-in-cheek Kraftwerk cha-chas. Good for a few laughs, but it lacked staying power. Brownout dabbling in the dark arts of Black Sabbath arrives as an altogether different beast. What began as a joke transcends gimmickry. On the surface, combining Austin's Latin-funk powerhouse and seminal doom rock might feel like mixing horchata and ale, but the teaming makes as much sense as San Antonio's global heavy metal crown. Latinos worldwide still constitute one of the most fervent fan bases of extreme blues derivatives, and as the band is quick to point out, Sabbath is inherently funky. Brown Sabbath was conceived in the back of a touring van and born last year when the eightpiece turned a monthlong residency at Frank into four distinct nights of cover songs. The album begins just as that first show did, with the iconic riff to "The Wizard" screaming through a three-piece horn section. Alex Marrero, the costume-changing frontman who oozes Ozzy Osbourne at live shows, wails on the opener and "N.I.B.," while Alex Maas of the Black Angels delivers on "Hand of Doom." The best comes last in the form of "Planet Caravan," a woozy kaleidoscope dream featuring David Jimenez on guitar and vocals. The question isn't whether or not this grand experiment works, but rather why Sabbath never had congas and a horn section to begin with.


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