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Black Sabbitch in concert.EXPAND
Black Sabbitch in concert.
Courtesy of the Artist

Black Sabbitch Is Redefining the Cover Band

Cover bands never had it easy. The very term evokes images of dad band hobbyists playing to an audience of a dozen disinterested bargoers on a Tuesday night. The “those who can’t” label is all too often and quite unfairly slapped on them before they even get a chance to plug in their amps. Being in a band is like running a marathon, and those who decide to go about it by playing the back catalog of a legendary band with a die-hard following are running with 20-pound weights firmly strapped to their ankles.

And in the case of an all-female cover band, you might as well add another 20 pounds.

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It’s enough to make most bands who fit into that category eventually pawn their gear and sign up for the steady, safe, and soul-crushing worlds of customer service or data entry. Not so for the women of Black Sabbitch. As is the case with all-female cover bands such as The Iron Maidens or AC/DShe, Black Sabbitch has the unenviable task of paying homage to a band whose fans border on a level of obsession that could fill even the most hardcore religious fundamentalists with deep concern.

After all, Black Sabbath is widely regarded as one of music’s greatest group of innovators and originators. The term “often imitated, never duplicated” seems like it could have been tailor-made for the onslaught of metal bands who earned short-term success throughout the 1980s. These bands would proudly tell you that Sabbath’s Vol. 4 reshaped their perception of what music could be, yet their overproduced sound and simple lyrics about finding women’s phone numbers on bathroom walls or conning 17-year-old girls into taking part in backstage debauchery greatly betrayed that claim.

Again, not so in the case of Black Sabbitch. Those who seek the purest source of the one-of-a-kind Sabbath sound never walk away from a Sabbitch live show feeling like they settled for a dollar store version of the Birmingham four. Sabbath may have hung up their boots after their 2016 farewell tour, but even before that came to be, Sabbitch was offering an experience that even Ozzy and the boys couldn’t provide. Thanks to decades of hard living and high screams, Osbourne’s vocal abilities have been in such decline that fan favorites like “Symptom of the Universe,” “Hole in the Sky,” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” were sadly left off their setlists. It’s a hard-to-swallow fact that Sabbath devotees were forced to accept since the band’s 1998 reunion, but Sabbitch has no problem tackling these vocally demanding classics.

After adding up Sabbitch’s raw musical talent, their ability to play the songs Sabbath were forced to raise to the rafters, and the high praise they’ve earned from none other than Ozzy and Sharon themselves, you are left with a band that takes the “gimmick” and “novelty’’ labels and shreds them up with the very same veracity that Tony Iommi has used to shred his Gibson SG for the past several decades.

In fact, if their legion of fans have anything to say about it, the only label you could possibly hang on Black Sabbitch would have to be “undeniable.”

Black Sabbitch. 7 p.m. Friday, January 25, at the Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe; 480-829-0607; marqueetheatreaz.com. Tickets are $15 via Ticketweb.

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