"Nativity In Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath" (Sony)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Yo, this is BIOHAZARD from New York, dropping some respect for the almighty BLACK SABBATH..."

So begins "Nativity In Black, A Tribute to Black Sabbath," one of the earlier in the seemingly endless series of tribute albums promising the hottest bands in the business doing cover versions of some classic veteran bands tunes. Like its predecessors, "Nativity In Black" has both its high points and low points. The surprises come, perhaps, in where these points lie.

The first song is "After Forever," covered by the above-mentioned BIOHAZARD. BIOHAZARD has given this SABBATH classic a freshness that is undeniable, while at the same time giving the tune that BIOHAZARD signature. "Nativity In Black" starts out with a bang.

Track number two is "Children of the Grave," covered by WHITE ZOMBIE. This ragingly heavy cover is perhaps the collection's most powerful cut. Only the repetitive "news" reports about Charles Manson and gang get in the way of this one.

MEGADETH cover "Paranoid" on the third track. The band has chosen to take the straight cover route here and their version differs little from the original SABBATH classic. There is a certain razor sharp MEGADETH edge to the cut, however.

Ever heard of 1,000 HOMO DJ's? Well, we hadn't - at least until this album was released. The band (which features Al Jourgenson of MINISTRY) and their cover of "Supernaut" begins with a radio speech about the evils of rock'n'roll. What follows is an industrialized version of a SABBATH tune that could be called "industrial" itself. Interesting, but not one of the collection's better cuts.

Founding SABBATH member OZZY OSBOURNE teams up with THERAPY? on "Iron Man." Even more so than MEGADETH's "Paranoid," "Iron Man" sounds just like the old SABBATH standard as though recorded on 1990s equipment. Nice to hear, but nothing outstanding here.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY cover SABBATH's "Lord of this World" on cut six. The band manages to maintain their unique sound while not losing the classic SABBATH tune in the making. Another nice cut that offers little in the realm of originality.

Speedmonsters SEPULTURA take on "Symptom of the Universe" next and they do it in record time. Actually, the band slows down more than one might expect on their cover here, but their rough-edged, razor-sharp sound is complete with the drums really pounding it on. Of course, the vocals are a little grittier than anything any SABBATH vocalist has ever done.

A bunch of rock'n'roll veterans team together for the next cut, "The Wizard." BULLRING BRUMMIES includes bandmembers Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward of the original BLACK SABBATH and Brian Tilse and Wino. This is a most interesting cut, thanks to some great harmonica and the fact that Halford, one of hard music's best vocalists, filled in for Ronnie James Dio once when Sabbath was on tour, opening for with Ozzy Osbourne.

IRON MAIDEN frontman BRUCE DICKINSON teams up with GODSPEED on the next cut, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." However, the end result is one of the collection's most disappointing moments. Dickinson doesn't have the type of voice that fits the SABBATH sound well and GODSPEED do much better work at full speed. Oh, well.

UGLY KID JOE do "N.I.B." next and do it surprisingly well. The band really do justice to "N.I.B." It's another one of those "sound-like-the-original" tunes, but, frankly, we expected worse.

A live version of "War Pigs" is performed next by FAITH NO MORE. Again, nothing special here with the exception that this is the tribute album's only live cut.

By far the most interesting piece comes in the form of "Black Sabbath" as performed by the always controversial TYPE O NEGATIVE. The best way to describe this cut is to try to imagine Boris Karloff doing a BLACK SABBATH cover with Satanic chants and throbbing music supporting him. This is the kind of cut you don't want to listen to late at night - especially if you're alone.

All told, "Nativity In Black" is a pretty decent tribute album. A lot of great hard music bands pay tribute to one of the bands that helped discover the genre. And they do it with style, power and respect.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2018 21:33:06 -0500.