Brownout is a Latin RnB/rock/funk outfit from Austin Texas that was created when members of popular cumbia band Grupo Fantasana decided to play some covers by the likes of Santana, EW&F and the P-funk mob for the fun of it. Their first ep did so well that they decided to keep the group going and record more albums. Somewhere along the way they came up with the idea of doing whole shows made up of Black Sabbath cover tunes and that was the birth of Brown Sabbath. “Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath” is like one big party on record where heavy Black Sabbath riffs meet Latin percussion and funk grooves. It’s a good record, but I have a feeling this is something that hits its real peak in a live performance. Nothing too serious or subtle going on here, just good times where rock crunch is pushed with a big horn section and that steady Latin RnB groove.
Some of the Sabbath covers have singers and they play those tunes more or less like the originals, while others like “Iron Man” and “Black Sabbath” are instrumental and are rearranged so that riffs that work best with the RnB groove are kept, and the riffs that are not as pliable are tossed aside. Guest singer Alex Mannero is a dead ringer for Ozzy on “Wizard”, but oddly enough, he sounds a lot like Jack Bruce on N.I.B., which ends up making you realize how similar Sabbath was to Cream sometimes. As mentioned earlier, this is probably a band that is best experienced live, I’m sure their sound is powerful. I don’t know how long they will be able to keep this sort of schtick going, these sort of gimmicks can have a short shelf life, then again, Dread Zepplin, turned their reggae-Elvis-Zepplin wackiness into a career. To their credit though, Brownout is being more or less serious here and not near as absurd or silly as Dread Zep. Still, someday in the future, I would imagine Brownout’s songs are going to show up on odd cover song collections along side ska versions of Green Day and exotica covers of Nirvana.
If Black Sabbath covers played by an excellent modern funky Latin rock band sounds like a good time to you, go for it, these guys really smoke, excellent players all the way around.