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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Various Artists

Nativity In Black

Review by Rick Damigella

It is safe to say that while there were forces all happening simultaneously in music in the late 60’s, which would later be regarded as the elements from which heavy metal evolved. One band crawled forth, nay, stomped out of, the primordial ooze of the late sixties music scene to single handedly create an entirely new sound heretofore unheard coming from the speakers of stereos of the youth of the world.

The level to which Black Sabbath has influenced heavy music is undeniable. Where would any band that has d-tuned their guitars and screamed like Cookie Monster into their mics be without Black Sabbath? Would we have even had a New Wave of British Heavy Metal? Would Guitar Center sell as many six strings to aspiring teenager axe wielders? That is why in 1994, a group of 12 of the best modern metalmeisters came together to pay homage to the preternatural gods of heavy metal. Nativity in Black came out at a time where grunge ruled the music scene. It is album that sounded like a dark, evil thing that should not be, crawling back out of the ooze to flick its forked tongue in defiance at the plaid wearing masses and reminded you just how influential and scary Black Sabbath’s sound could be.

NIB is one of the very few tribute albums that actually is a tribute, as opposed to a small record label throwing its cadre of bands onto a single disc to destroy the classics in the name of profit that generally leave you wanting to go back and listen to the original recordings anyway. While Nativity in Black accomplishes this as well, but in a much better way, it also stands up completely on its own as a unique and scary listening experience. It’s recommended listening on a midnight dreary or whenever you need to hear a bit of musical deviltry.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Biohazard-After Forever

Brooklyn, New York’s trailblazing sons of metal/hip-hop hybrid theory open the album with a Sabbath name-check and a pounding version of the song from Sabbath’s third album Master of Reality.
White Zombie-Children Of The Grave

Black Sabbath descended upon the end of the Age of Aquarius a year after the seminal events that many argue ended it (Altamont and the Manson murders). White Zombie’s take on “Children of the Grave” (again from Master of Reality) samples period-era newscast audio of the heinous crimes to chilling effect.
Megadeth-Paranoid

This is the signature Sabbath song as recorded by Dave Mustaine and Megadeth. It’s faster than the original by a small margin. Had Mustaine been born a few years earlier, he could have given Ronnie James Dio a run at being Ozzy’s replacement in Sabbath.
1000 Homo DJ's-Supernaut

This is the absolutely hands (of doom) down best song on the album. The band is the nom de bande of Al “Ministry” Jourgensen who reworks a Black Sabbath Vol. 4 classic into his own signature sound to such great effect, it becomes the exception that proves the rule of the dangers of covering songs of legends.
Ozzy Osbourne w/Therapy?-Iron Man

All of the original Sabs (save for Tony Iommi) appear on this album. Here The Prince of Darkness himself gets out in front of Therapy? to redo a true metal classic. (At this point, I might as well say if you don’t have the album Paranoid, from which this comes, what’s wrong with you?)
Corrosion of Conformity-Lord Of This World

Another seminal track from Master of Reality, this time it’s done by thrash-turned-metal band Corrosion of Conformity. Pepper Keenan’s vocals again display the degree to which Ozzy’s style has influenced music.
Sepultura-Symptom Of The Universe

Brazilian heavy metal masters Sepultura take on this track originally found on Sabotage. The lilting acoustic guitar outro is yet another homage to Iommi’s style, often mixing in beautiful guitar passages like this to counterpoint his doomsday heralding six-string crunch.
Bullring Brummies-The Wizard

Only Black Sabbath could make a harmonica sound as if the hordes of hell were indeed riding forth from a tear in the very soil of the earth. From Sabbath’s self-titled debut, this cover by an all-star line up of Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Rob Halford on vocals, shows what this song would sound like if it were originally recorded in ’94 instead of ’70.
Bruce Dickinson w/Godspeed: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Formed the same year as this album’s release, Godspeed only released a single album in its career. Guest vocals from Iron Maiden’s main screamer give this track its otherworldly edge.
Ugly Kid Joe-N.I.B.

It would take a Sabbath cover to show Ugly Kid Joe could do metal without the satire that was their trademark. Whitfield Crane never sounded better than here.
Faith No More-War Pigs (live)

Recorded at Brixton Academy in London, Mike Patton and the band tear through Paranoid’s opening anthem with such ferocity you would think this was their song to begin with.
Type O Negative-Black Sabbath

Forming a pagan circle to close the album we find ourselves back in Brooklyn, this time with gothic-doom metalists Type O Negative, who take the quintessentially scary Sabbath song and make it down right terrifying, adding in disturbing EV150-style sound effects of bubbling pits of sulfur and moans of the damned to eerie effect. Do not, under any circumstances, play this with the lights out on Halloween.
 
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