Record Company: Columbia Records
Release Date: October 4, 1994
Producer: Bob Chiappardi
Web Site: N/A
1.) Biohazard: After Forever (3.) [5:46] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): "Yo... This is Biohazard from Brooklyn, New York... dropping some respect for the almighty Black Sabbath... 1994... Mutha Fuckers!" You gotta love it! The boys from Biohazard turn in an amped-up version of this classic Sabbath cut, complete with razor-sharp riffing and growled vocals. It's still fairly true to the original, though... After all, how can you improve on a monster track like this? Rating: 7/10
2.) White Zombie: Children Of The Grave (3.) [5:50] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): I gotta give it to the Zombie brigade. They manage to take a near-perfect tune, and make it just a little bit cooler. In classic White Zombie fashion, they pull out all the stops, jazzing up the rhythm section a bit to drive this song along like a freight train, turning it into a headbanging classic. To top it all off, they throw in some ungodly shrieks and screams of torment sprinkled throughout the track for that added little bit of terror. Nice. Very nice. Rating: 10/10
3.) Megadeth: Paranoid (2.) [2:32] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): Leave it to Big Dave Mustaine to cut through the bullshit and trim nearly 30 seconds off of one of the shortest tracks Sabbath ever did. The band really kicks it into high gear for this one, turning this tune in the supercharged shred-fest we all knew it could be. You can almost hear the hair whipping past the microphones! They left the now-famous missed ending intact, with drummer Nick Menza continuing to play after the song is over and Dave yelling, "Nick. Nick! NICK!!!" Unfortunately, they edited out Nick's equally-famous, "Fuck me running..." response. Rating: 10/10
4.) 1,000 Homo DJ's: Supernaut (4.) [6:39] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): Al Jourgensen's long-running side-project of misfits and deviants churns out an industrial-strength powerbomb, complete with noise effects and a monster-sized drum beat. The radio voices in the background add a nice touch to make this a headbanger's mid-tempo wet dream.
There has been much speculation as to whether or not the distorted vocals on this track belong to Buck Satan (Jourgensen) or Trent Reznor. It is fairly well-known that Reznor originally recorded the vocal track, but Jourgensen was prevented from releasing by Reznor's label, TVT Records. Some rumors say that to get around that, Al simply treated the original vocal track with distortion effects. However, both artists have since denied the claim, saying the vocals on this version really are Jourgensen's. Reznor's version was later released on TVT's "Black Box" album, chronicling the best of the Wax Trax! label recordings.
Either way, this track kicks major-league ass, regardless of who's doing the screaming. Rating: 12/10
5.) Ozzy Osbourne w/Therapy?: Iron Man (2.) [5:26] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): The band Therapy? provides a pretty cool, modernized version of this track. Giving it a faster pace and jazzed-up drum pattern, the band even boldly decided to make some minor alterations to the legendary riff (adding a couple of doubled notes in each measure). They even added a completely different bridge and outro to spice things up further. The result is an effective makeover for one of the most identifiable tracks in history.
That said, the fact that Ozzy couldn't stay away from this track, opting to provide the vocals really drives me nuts. He didn't even record it in the same studio, opting instead to overdub his vocals on top of the band's music after the fact. He didn't try anything different or experimental either, using the same intonation and vocal treatments that can be found on the original album. 10-to-1 Sharon had a hand in this, turning an otherwise ambitious take on a classic into an exercise in futility. Rating: 5/10
6.) Corrosion Of Conformity: Lord Of This World (3.) [6:25] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): Featuring the best lineup of CoC (in my opinion), the band really does justice to this metal masterpiece, sticking fairly close to the original but still managing to infuse the album with that famous "Southern sludge" sound. The guitar duo of Pepper Keenan and Woody Weatherman do an awesome job of capturing the guitar phrasing on the fills and solos, while adding an ultra-beefiness to the riff itself. This is the band doing what they do best. Needless to say, I've always dug this one. Rating: 9/10
7.) Sepultura: Symptom Of The Universe (6.) [4:15] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): Crunchy to the 10th power. Brazil's finest shredders turn this already heavy-duty tune into a metallic symphony of spine-shaking goodness. However, it is Max Cavalera's low-end snarls and growls that forever mark this track as being officially defiled by Sepultura. A definite "A" effort. Rating: 9/10
8.) Bullring Brummies: The Wizard (1.) [5:01] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): For the record, the Bullring Brummies are: Rob Halford (Judas Priest/Fight) on vocals, bassist Geezer Butler (Sabbath), drummer Bill Ward (Sabbath), guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinrich (The Obsessed), guitarist Brian Tilse (Fight) and Jimmy Wood on harmonica. As on Iron Man, I would have liked to have seen the members of Sabbath keep a respectable distance from the recording process, but I think it's a little more forgivable in this case, simply because the contribution isn't quite as obvious or immediately identifiable. The entire song has been revamped into a metal anthem, losing a bit of the looseness of the original, but replacing it with a metal jam sensibility. Add to that some stellar axe work and Halford's vocal prowess and it's hard not to come away liking this one. Rating: 8/10
9.) Bruce Dickinson w/Godspeed: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (5.) [5:36] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): When I saw Dickinson's name on this track, I figured that his vocals would match Ozzy's high-pitched screaming note-for-bloody-note. Surprisingly, however, "Bruce Almighty" decided to bring it down a register, giving the song a whole different vibe. The frantic, urgent sound of the original was gone, replaced by the story-telling vibe that appears so frequently on some of Maiden's classic recordings. Even more surprisingly, it works extremely well in this context, giving the song a new life... in the afterlife, of course. Rating: 9/10
10.) Ugly Kid Joe: N.I.B. (1.) [5:28] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): I love these guys. Always have. They manage to spice up everything they touch, and this is no exception. The band breathes fire into this one, giving the song even more punch than the original. Add to that the mighty Whitfield Crane's spot-on vocals (think Sebastian Bach with all the range and a slightly smoother delivery) and you've got a damn-near perfect tune here made even better, if that's even possible. You're damn skippy this kicks ass... Rating: 12/10
11.) Faith No More: War Pigs [Live] (2.) [7:02] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): You just gotta love these guys. It takes balls to turn in a live version of a classic for a tribute album, particularly one where Mike Patton blah blah blah's his way through some of the lyrics. All told, though, these guys masterfully jam out an inspired rendition of this famous track, particularly Billy Gould's jaw-dropping bass work (it ain't easy to keep up with the mighty Geezer, after all ). A great band with a sick sense of humor... or maybe they're just having a Midlife Crisis of Epic proportions. Rating: 9/10
12.) Type O Negative: Black Sabbath (1.) [7:45] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): Whoa! What the fuck was that? Oh, it's Peter Steele and the Satanic stylings of Type O Negative. That explains it. The world famous bottom-feeders hit a new low on this track, which is bound to make even the mighty Tony Iommi beg for absolution. No way around it... you gotta give 'em some demonic props for that. I'd love to hear them do a cover of God Of Thunder. The original "Demon" would run for his life, without a doubt. Rating: 10/10
13.) Cathedral: Solitude [European version only] (3.) [7:45] (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward): Sadly, as this track was only released on the European version of the disc, I was unable to track down a copy of it for review. Rating: N/A
(1.) Originally from "Black Sabbath"
(2.) Originally from "Paranoid"
(3.) Originally from "Master Of Reality"
(4.) Originally from "Volume IV"
(5.) Originally from "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"
(6.) Originally from "Sabotage"
The Last Word:
NOTE: The ratings given above are meant to gauge the performances of the bands here, not the merit of the original songs.
Here we have one of the first true tribute albums, named for the often-cited (but very incorrect) "full name" of the famous Sabbath track, N.I.B.. True Sabbath fans know better, so I think it makes for a pretty fitting title.
I don't do many reviews of tribute albums. In fact, this is only my second one (The Iron Maidens being my first). There are a few reasons for that, but the main one is that many people tend to avoid them or even ignore them completely. While I tend to agree that the trend has gotten completely out-of-hand in recent years ("A Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica?"... "A Lounge Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne?"... Really? ), I still think that some of these albums tend to bring out the best of some musicians, who take the task as an honor and a privilege and want to pay homage to one of their early influences or contemporaries.
If you ask me, it's a real shame to ignore the entire tribute genre. Personally, I tend to love a well-done cover song or tribute. I always enjoy hearing a great band putting their own creative stamp on some dusty classic... or even just doing a faithful rendition, because you tend to still hear the performers' distinctive style. Perhaps if people only knew how many artists routinely threw obscure cover songs on their regular albums, they'd be more likely to give them a chance. I think a lot of people would be simply amazed at how many tunes that they thought were originals were actually covers of some obscure artist.
As far as cover albums go, this one is one of the first I can remember that was exclusively dedicated to a particular artist ("Stone Free," "Encomium" and "Kiss My A**" also being among the early entrants). Since the tribute disc was really in its infancy, I think a lot of these artists tried to stay fairly close to the original arrangements, with a few exceptions (primarily Type O Negative and Therapy?). Even so, each of these bands chose an early Sabbath favorite and went to town, jamming and riffing in their own distinctive styles. It's amazing to see the wide-ranging influence of Sabbath's music reflected in the various artists represented here.
Suffice to say, I really enjoyed this album and have had a copy since it's original release 15 years ago. There is a second "N.I.B." compilation that was released in 2000 featuring a (mostly) different track list and a (mostly) new batch of artists. I can't say too much about it... yet... because I just ordered it today. Of course, I went ahead and ordered a power metal tribute to Sabbath while I was at it.
I love this shit...
RockHard approved for a new take on some seriously classic tunes.
The Bottom Line (AKA - The Six-Pack Scale):