Of all the seminal heavyweight scare-alls you could choose for a Halloween soundtrack, you’d be hard pushed to choose chillier than Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath from Black Sabbath – not just the slowest, most-ominous anti-groove put to tape at that point in heavy rock’s short history, but a track that’s got the imagery to match: the Hammer-horror dread that Ozzy conjures in your shitting-it mind and, of course, the spectral Presence on the album’s cover.
But despite all that, we’re not picking Black Sabbath the track for a Halloween playlist, not this year. 2014 belongs to PARANOID.
I’ve never much liked it.
Easily the least essential of Iommi and co’s anthems, it stands supremely un-tall against Sabba-manna like Wheels of Confusion, Fairies Wear Boots, Hole in the Sky and the like. No-one, surely no-one, would pick Paranoid’s pop-metal bounce ahead of any of those.
But what if it was slower – like, a LOT slower?
Or blacker – like, none-more-Tap blacker?
Or deader – like, graveyard undeader?
Cue Type O Negative.
If ever a band embodied the Halloween aesthetic and staked it with wry gallows’ humour, Type O are it. Halloween in Heaven, Black No.1, Bloody Kisses and All Hallows Eve are literal enough links but really, any track of theirs from Bloody Kisses onwards that’s not thrash-fast is pretty much game – Suspended in Dusk, Everyone I Love is Dead, Haunted, The Profit of Doom, take your pick. You get the gist.
But it’s the realm of the cover version that pulls everything together today. The band have got form in this area, lending the Negative touch to Neil Young, the Beatles, Hendrix and – most perversely/brilliantly – to 70s harmony-pop smash Summer Breeze, dragging the Seals and Crofts/Isley Brothers classic from sunshine floater to a slow-low-lower hot sticky trudge.
And so it is with Paranoid, stuck on the end of the faux-live pisstake Origin of the Feces.
Hypnosis-slow, lavishly arranged and knowingly soaked in trademark vampiric goth, Brooklyn’s least celebrated give Sabbath’s 3-minute chugger a makeover so total and so Type O that they absolutely own it: seven luxuriant minutes of pure Para-satisfaction, making it feel like the first time all over again.
Sneak a bit of Iron Man’s downward bender of a riff into the mid-section and you’ve not just got a top Sabbath tribute and a ‘ween classic for the rest of time.
You’ve got one of the best metal cover versions EVER.
*recorded in 1994, it’s 20 years cold!!!! Dig it out from post-94 issues of Origin of the Feces.
**for a few more soundtracks from the dark side, have a quick look at last year’s Halloween list