In 2014, Austin Latin psych-funk collective Brownout found itself taking on a surprising new identity when it landed a gig covering Black Sabbath songs. The one-time offer turned into a big part of what the band was, with the release of an album under the name Brown Sabbath, national media attention, a tour, and a shout-out from Ozzy himself. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the success of Brown Sabbath would lead to the release of Brown Sabbath Vol. 2.
The formula here remains more or less the same. They cover classic Sabbath songs, mostly from the more epic end of the group’s discography, but as a nine-piece with a horn section with occasional guest vocalists from famous Austin bands pitching in with singer Alex Marrero. On the first Brown Sabbath, that guest vocalist was Black Angels frontman Alex Maas, and this time out, Ghostland Observatory’s Aaron Behrens delivers his best Ozzy impression.
Behrens takes vocal duties on the cover of “Symptom Of The Universe” (from 1975’s Sabotage), which premieres exclusively via Texas Monthly below. “The song is great, because it has a lot of elements which feature Brownout’s natural strengths—powerful guitar riffs, grooving basslines,” Brown Sabbath bassist Greg Gonzalez says. “The ending section also allowed our arranger, Mark ‘Speedy’ Gonzales, to write some soulful horn parts without altering the essential nature of the song. Aaron ultimately sewed up this track with his vocal style—from the aggressive alto power of the metal part, where he was feeling some Rob Halford/Judas Priest-ian inspiration, to the falsetto harmonies in the psychedelic soul section, à la Sister Sledge.”
The track brings the Ozzy era of Black Sabbath to life with the same edge that made Brown Sabbath such a delight the first time around.
(Brown Sabbath Vol. 2 is out October 28 on Ubiquity Records.)