posted on 9/2005 By:
The seeds planted by Black Sabbath many years ago have grown and spread in so many directions throughout metal that Sabbath influences, both implicit and explicit, are as common as girl jeans at an Avenged Sevenfold show. Bands that actually sound like Sabbath, however, form a much smaller group. Enter Canada’s Sheavy, whose claim to fame is that they’ve produced some of the best Sabbath since Sabbath. The comparison is rooted in the nasally, high registered vocal delivery of Steve Hennessey, who does indeed sound a great deal like the Ozzman himself sounded back when he was an outlaw rather than a corporation. However, musically, the comparison to Sabbath can be misleading. Don’t get me wrong, Sheavy rattles off a good supply of Sabbath riffs and leads, but the core of the music is built, not around doom, but in the desert rock of bands like Fu Manchu. On Republic?, the band’s fifth full-length effort, Sheavy again offers up another offering of mid-to-late Sabbath, along with a bit of early Ozzy solo work; mixed with the brighter crunch of head nodding riff rock.
The catch-22 for Sheavy is that they are at their best when they unabashedly ape the grandfathers of metal, but if they put all their eggs in that reverential basket, would never rise above the Sabbath clone tag. Unfortunately, the songs that deviate most from that formula are uniformly solid but rarely as impressive. The microphone stand twirling, riff rock swagger of songs like “Hangman” and “A Phone Booth in the Middle of Nowhere” (which almost sounds like the heaviest moments of Foo Fighters) are fun songs that are perfect fodder for windows down, volume cranked summertime cruising, but on balance, it’s the Sabbath spawned work on songs like “The Rook” and “Standing at the Edge of the World” that will keep listeners revisiting the Republic? of Sheavy. The guitar work on “Standing…” is particularly Iommi like, with emphatically bent notes and a vintage, spacey solo. Other Sabbath moments crop up in otherwise more contemporary sounding songs. “The Man Who Never Was” transitions from fist pumping boogie into a “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”-inspired trudge. Because of Sheavy’s debt to Sabbath and Hennessey’s natural likeness to Osbourne, even the work less connected to Sabbath is viewed through that lens, which probably isn’t entirely fair. The traditional, no frills crunch of “Spy vs. Spy” is reminiscent of solo Ozzy, and for some reason I think of the Bill Ward sung “Swinging the Chain” every time I hear “Stingray, Part III”.
There is no ying without yang, and while Sheavy clearly benefits from their likeness to Black Sabbath, they also struggle to do what they can to sidestep the stamp of “clone”. Republic? is a solid and enjoyable album that doesn’t break any new ground, but when you hear that voice come from your speakers, it’s impossible not to pay attention, if only for a bit.
Register to post comments.