Despite the dark skies left over the metal community in the wake of the recent passing of Deftones bassist Chi Cheng and the tragic and unexpected loss of Slayer guitarist, Jeff Hanneman, the announcement of a reunited Black Sabbath -- you know, the seminal dark lords of metal -- has managed to help keep the heavy metal masses smiling (with crossed arms, of course).
Even without legendary drummer Bill Ward thundering the skins, Black Sabbath is still fucking Black Sabbath, and considering the former lifestyles (or current for the recently relapsed Ozzy Osborne) and ages of Sabbath's members, we'll take whatever we can get at this point.
Birmingham's greatest gift to music will be adding to its hallowed canon with 13, its first new release featuring the majority of its original lineup since 1978. These guys will also be heading out on a massive tour in support the album. While our excitement is tempered by the lack of Bill Ward's involvement, we are still stoked to have them back for what is inevitably a final round of rituals before the boys settle into a proper retirement.
Being that we absolutely love any excuse we can find for a trivial "best of" list, we're going to throw the spotlight on some of our favorite South Florida bands that have shown a distinct Black Sabbath influence in their sound or aesthetic. The following list is in no particular order, and while we hope you troll the shit out of the comments section, please remember that this is but an opinion on the internet, and if you feel the urge to throw something inanimate in a fit of rage, Buzzfeed is a few URLs to the left and they have a plenty of cats and moronic memes to occupy your thoughts.
Gnarliest of the incestuous quartet of bands that put Miami-bred sludge on the map is Cavity. A fantastic example of what happens when you take the sonic Sabbath aesthetic of fuzz and grunt, chop and screw that shit, and adopt the hoarse vocals of a Satanic demon. If you were planning on sacrificing a goat or lighting a neighbor on fire in the near future, this song would make an ideal soundtrack.
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Next pillar in the house of sludge that Miami built is Floor. Floor and Cavity shared and swapped members at different points in the '90s and are closely related in many convoluted ways, however, each band provided a completely different take on sludge ecstasy. Floor's more rockin' assault had all of the chugging guitars, but were rounded out by Steve Brooks' inimitable vocals. It also featured "bomb notes," which utilize a slack-tuned bass string where the low E string normally goes to create a bottomless pit of chunk during a riff. Recent years brought South Florida a Floor reunion, and the group is currently recording a new album.
The most popular band to come from Miami's sludgy quorum of 4 is Torche. Torche's sound has developed into an even more consumable extension of what Floor did, frequently referred to as stoner-pop by critics searching for a box to place them in. However, the band's output includes stuff on either extreme of the heaviness spectrum, ranging from bombastic muck to glorious rock anthems.
The above track is from the band's most recent EP, and makes us want to put our head through a fucking wall. While just about every heavy band on the planet can claim Sabbath as an influence, Torche's lumbering guitars and tom-heavy drumming is but a few branches lower on the metal family tree.
7. Holly Hunt
Holly Hunt is an instrumental duo from Miami that features former Floor drummer Beatriz Monteavaro on drums and Gavin Perry on guitar, rounding out the cult heroes of doom that hail from this swampy land.
While Holly Hunt is a relative newcomer, the band has received a strong showing of critical acclaim for its stripped-down approach to droning metal that is heavy and monolithic with an artistic and psychedelic flare. Seeing Holly Hunt live is as much a physical sensation as it is an aural one, thanks to Perry's unending amplifier lust.
Ether features "Mean" Pete Kowalsky and Danny Burger of metallic hardcore band Remembering Never. And though this band has not been particularly active in recent months, they have finally released an LP of post-Sabbath doom that flows like an iceberg of death down a river a blood. The band's sound can be compared to a more violent take on the style forged by Isis and Neurosis -- with a healthy dose of Tony Iommi informed riffing thrown in for good measure.
Ignorantly loud, satanic sludge from the heart of the Magic City, Consular is pretty much defunct these days. This band describes themselves as "bulldozer-core," which is definitely accurate from an sonic perspective. Most of the Consular performances we've attended concluded with frontman Matt Cleer rolling around on the floor while screaming into a mic like a deranged animal, and at least two band members bleeding. This band also sold a T-shirt that featured its name in the iconic Black Sabbath font.
4. Shroud Eater
Shroud Eater is Miami's answer to High on Fire and Motorhead, plain and simple. Fronted by a duo of left-handed demon conjurers, Jean Saiz and Janette Valentine, this band sounds like dinosaurs fucking, but with a spaced-out twist. The new material we've heard live has shown a definite evolution in Shroud Eater's sound in a more refined direction from previous efforts. But the songs are still nasty celebrations of fuzz and double-bass drumming.
3. The Tunnel
What would happen if the Melvins formed a band with Pentagram? Or if Black Sabbath covered Rush songs? It would probably sound something like the Tunnel. Another intrepid duo, the Tunnel makes a mountain of sound via a guitar, some synth pedals, and Arturo Garcia's deft drumming. Definitely not for straight laced riff rockers, this band is adventurous and weird in the best way.
While Centuries is distinctly a hardcore band, the guitar tones, lyrical content, and the evil depth of its sound is undoubtedly linked to Black Sabbath. What's more, the Palm Beach based group has recently signed with purveyors of all that is good in the world of heavy music, Southern Lord Records, and we have been looking for a good excuse to congratulate them publicly. Here here, gents!
Considered a punk band by some, a hardcore band by others, Load had plenty of Black Sabbath's sludge and anger in its sound. Bobby "Load" Johnston tragically passed away last year, presumably at the the grips of his vices, but the music the man made left an immense impact on the nihilistic side of heavy music.
Black Sabbath, Wednesday, July 31, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets went on sale May 4. Visit cruzanamphitheatre.net.
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