"Paranoid" by MassasaugaReview
There should be no "rules" in rock & roll or indeed in any creative field. If you let yourself be limited by such things, it binds you into a tight place. Massasauga don't strike me as the sort of people who take much notice of rules fortunately.
Nevertheless, bands as distinctive as they are & ones with a demonstrated ability to craft strong original music tend to go light on covers generally It's also probably preferable to skirt well known songs & go for obscurer ones where comparisons wit the original are less likely to be made: certainly covering classics if you are known for your own original material is not something people tend to do.
Massasauga however have cojones of considerable size & have just released their version of "Paranoid", precisely the calibre of song which would seem impossible to compete with the original…. As Conrad Lummus told me: "we're a bold band" and so they are.
Available for free via this link: https://massasauga.bandcamp.com/track/paranoid-black-sabbath-cover, it's a very different source genre to their previous venture into covers (Edwyn Collins' "Girl Like You" from 2020) yet speaks also to part of the hinterland behind the band & offers a glimpse into the influences of Conrad & drummer Adam Stewart: both of whom are Black Sabbath fans. Big fans.
Well you can see & hear now where the volume & pace of Massasauga come from & to their credit they don't go for a slavish facsimile but bend the song to their own style & hence prove the validity of the exercise: this actually breathes freshness into this much covered track (as recently as Monday while I was listening to Ezza Brianna at Rugby Music Festival, I simultaneously heard a slavish attempt at a copy from a nearby pub garden).
Gnarly & twisted it pulls the alienated vision of fifty years ago into the 21st century with if anything greater clangour and racket than Black Sabbath could conjure up & a vocal which sounds like Conrad is trying to fight his medication as he gets his words out (thankfully he makes no attempt to imitate Ozzy): if they were trying to evoke the popular idea of the interior of an old time asylum then they have succeeded.
A triumph really of how courage & instinct for what might work coupled with a disdain for the conventions plus musical imagination can work wonders even I would not have thought possible.