It’s Friday 13th, 1970. You’ve decided to take a visit to your local record shop. You walk over to the new releases section and spot an album with a slightly creepy looking house and a woman in black on the cover. Unbeknownst to you, you’ve just become part of heavy metal history.
Black Sabbath reached number eight in the UK charts and is widely recognised as the first heavy metal album (a fact that has never ever been debated by any metal fan ever. Honest.) The album was incredibly influential and helped to inspire thousands of bands over the decades.
Pretty much every metal band worth their weight in studs and leather lists Black Sabbath as an influence. We bring you the best covers of each track of this significant piece of music history to show how much Black Sabbath have impacted on the heavy metal world.
- Black Sabbath – Throne of Ahaz
First off we bring to you a 3-piece defunct Black Metal band from Sweden; Throne of Ahaz. The band split up in 1996 and this cover of “Black Sabbath” was a part of their final release entitled On Twilight Enthroned, released November 16th 1996 through No Fashion Records. The track starts with a customary in-your-face black metal howl and poses a somewhat traditionalist cover of the original, but this version adds a more extreme and darker feel and mood to the track (if that is possible!)
2. The Wizard – The Bullring Brummies (feat. Rob Halford, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, Brian Tilse and Wino [St. Vitus])
This cover was a part of the 1994 Nativity in Black – A Tribute to Black Sabbath release.
The track begins with a distorted and frenetic harmonica sound, delving into a quirky rendition of this song and containing three members of the Sabbath’s original line up. One can only dream what the world would have been like if Rob Halford had performed more gigs with Black Sabbath… in the meantime this is a track that all Black Sabbath and Judas Priest fans will no doubt enjoy this unique version of this classic Sabbath track.
3. Behind the Wall of Sleep – Planet of Zeus
Greek southern-metallers Planet of Zeus covered Behind the Wall of Sleep to be featured on the 2013 Metal Hammer Greece Black Sabbath tribute album Sabbath Cadabra. The southern style of Planet of Zeus does lend itself well to the track, providing a sound reminiscent of Black Label Society, but with more Skynard-esque vocals (in a totally awesome way)
4. N.I.B. – Foo Fighters (feat. Zakk Wylde)
A live rarity here in the format of a Foo Fighters gig, with Dave Grohl on bass accompanied by Zakk Wydle on guitar and vocals. Zakk Wylde being perhaps one of metal’s most staple cover artists of Black Sabbath/Ozzy material, this track does not feel out of kilter at all. Both men have displayed their love for Black Sabbath (and Ozzy) over the years. The song was performed at The Forum in Los Angeles, California on 10th January 2015, displaying why Zakk Wydle (through the guitar mastery of Tony Iommi) is often deemed one of metal’s top shredders of recent decades.
5. Evil Woman – Crow
The first of two covers to feature on the album, Evil Woman was originally written and released in 1970 by Crow, a US blues rock band from Minnesota. Sabbath covered the song and released it as their first single in the same year. Subsequently, the song did not appear on the US version of Black Sabbath, replaced instead by Wicked World. The original track runs with the same notable baseline throughout, but the addition of trumpets and vocal harmonies give the track a much funkier, bluesy vibe.
6. Sleeping Village – Frown
A doom metal band from Australia, Frown present an almost doubled length of Sabbath’s original track, a common trait attributable to the length of songs within the doom metal genre. At 2:59, the band successfully attempt to instil new life and heaviness into the section of musical majesty around the timeframe of 00:53 found on the original track, reminiscent of the mesmerizing wall of soundscapes created by the likes of Electric Wizard. The track itself was also a part of the CVLT NATION Black Sabbath sessions 2017.
7. Warning – The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
Warning is the second cover song featured on Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath. The original version featured main man Aynsley Dunbar – a Liverpudlian drummer with an extensive rock resumé. The band itself was formed following Aynsley’s dismissal from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he was replaced by Mick Fleetwood. Who’s version is better? We’ll leave that for you to decide…
8. Wicked World – Spirit Caravan
A band fronted by Obsessed and Saint Vitus front man Scott “Wino” Weinrich. It is not surprising to see such an engaged doom artist as Wino covering this classic Sabbath song. The original song itself did not feature upon its original release of Black Sabbath in 1970 but on the 1971 Japanese 7” single release and later on a 1996 CD bonus track version. This version of the track features upon the 2002 compilation entitled Sucking the 70’s featuring various artists amongst the likes of Clutch, Alabama Thunderpussy and Five Horse Johnson.
9. Black Sabbath – Type O Negative
As a special feature of this run down of covers, we present to you an incredibly dark, eerie and somewhat gothic transformation of Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath. This track is performed by Type O Negative. The band has covered the traditional musical arrangement of this song [albeit with additional sounds of alchemist like concoctions bubbling away] but have deviated from the norm and changed the original lyrical content to embark upon a greater foreboding satanic and ritualistic experience for the listener. Another cover version of Black Sabbath was found within the Nativity in Black tribute album but contained Peter Steele singing the songs original lyrics. This version was found within Type O Negative’s 2000’s Compilation album entitled The Least Worst Of. One can imagine the crux of this song being a part of the soundtrack/score to a new age Hammer Horror-style movie during scenes of occultist and ritualistic ceremonies.
10. N.I.B.B.L.E – MacSabbath
Coming slightly out of left field, we leave you with a treat for all, especially to those of you out there who love Black Sabbath but also appreciate a certain high profile fast food restaurant. This unique cover of N.I.B. by Californian “Drive Thru metallers” Mac Sabbath takes the Black Sabbath cover to extreme new heights. Mac Sabbath specialise in visual comedy, vibrant stage attire, gimmicks, and a slightly dodgy accent by the lead singer “Ronald Osbourne”. But don’t let that fool you; their love for Black Sabbath is shown in abundance. Their covers are true to the originals melody-wise but lyrically they spawn a whole new beast. So bask in the glory of Mac Sabbath, let Ronald Osbourne (Vocals), Slayer MacCheeze (Guitars), Grimalice (Bass) and the Catburglar (Drums) warp your taste buds and your mind. And on one final note, see if you can spot each individual’s homage to other great icons of rock and metal through their on-stage attire
What are your favourite Sabbath covers? Have you covered any yourself? Let us know in the comments section below!
Compiled by Ayesha Burrows + Adam Sharples two of our amazing Home of Metal volunteers