In terms of “hey, we’re just putting this out because it was sort of fun and easy and we need something to tide you over until our next real full-length” records go, Bat Sabbath might be the most unsurprising move in the history of music. Toronto crossover metal stalwarts Cancer Bats are releasing a Black Sabbath covers EP with the promise of a new album dropping in a few months? Yeah, that sounds about right.
Equally unsurprising is the tracklist, which, despite the merciful exclusion of overplayed hit “Paranoid”, covers just about all of the Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath tunes that the average person would be able to recognize on classic rock radio and nothing else. You’ve got “Children of the Grave”, “NIB”, and “War Pigs”, with the inclusion of the somewhat less well-known “Into the Void” tempered by the super-famous “Iron Man”. The only people who don’t at least peripherally know these songs are people under 15 and over 70.
The covers themselves are basically straight-ahead interpretations of some admittedly timeless and still totally badass songs. The big change here is one that you’d basically expect from the Cancer Bats covering Sabbath – all of the songs have been tuned down a notch or two, and there’s all these squealing pinch harmonics everywhere where your regular high notes should be. Of course, the most noticeable difference is Ozzy Osbourne’s classic monotone drawl replaced by regular vocalist Liam Cormier. His style works to varying degrees – while it actually sounds pretty good on “Children of the Grave” and “Into the Void”, the extreme-with-a-capital-X shouting usually comes off as cartoonishly aggressive to the point of silliness.
But then, this is a silly album in the first place – it’s a gesture of good faith from a bunch of guys with a clear reverence for the source material and a quick-and-dirty way for Cancer Bats to keep up the hype and anticipation for their newest full-length album. Do we necessarily need more basic covers of well-trodden Black Sabbath covers? Not at all, no, but it’s a good bit of fun and fans of the Bats will probably eat it right up.