In case you missed the headlines last week, Black Sabbath has split. It wasn’t a huge surprise. The iconic British metal band has spent much of the past year bidding farewell to fans before playing its final shows in November. But it wasn’t until March 7 that a Facebook post detailed the concluding truth that Black Sabbath, after nearly 50 years, was no more.
This brings us to the bizarre faux Sabbath outfit that finds its way to Cosmic Charlie’s on Friday night. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mac Sabbath.
Here’s the premise. Take four studious metalheads, dress them us as dark variants of characters inspired by the commercials of a well-established fast-food restaurant chain, use Black Sabbath melodies recast with lyrics inspired by the eatery’s bill of fare, and you have Mac Sabbath — the guitar-rock equivalent of a happy meal.
They’re just like the long-running restaurant cartoon characters, only a lot creepier.
Onstage, Mac Sabbath is fronted by a singer who goes by the name of Ronald Osborne — a mash-up of restaurant clown mascot Ronald you-know-who and famed Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osborne. On guitar is Slayer Mac Cheese, a player who spins the licks of Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi while donning a huge mask made to resemble a cheeseburger with tusks. On bass, wearing a giant purple gumdrop costume, is Grimalice, and manning the drums is Cat Burglar. They’re just like the long-running restaurant cartoon characters, only a lot creepier. The names have been changed (slightly) to protect the copyrighted.
So what this Los Angeles quartet, formed in 2014, achieves is part Weird Al Yankovic, part GWAR and, yes, part Black Sabbath. But the songs are all jokes. “Iron Man” becomes “Frying Pan,” and the 1975 Black Sabbath anthology “We Sold Our Souls for Rock ’n’ Roll” becomes the faux Mac Sabbath album “Sold Our Souls for Cinnamon Rolls.”
In truth, Mac Sabbath hasn’t released any official recordings. But YouTube videos for “Frying Pan” and “Sweet Beef” (a parody of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf”) are plentiful.
The videos also reveal Mac Sabbath to be, despite the satire, a serious musical lot. Other bands seem not to be dismissing Mac Sabbath. In 2015, Ronald Osborne and company played the Download Festival in Leicestershire, England, as part of a bill that included Motley Crue, Kiss and Judas Priest.
But perhaps the best description of Mac Sabbath comes from the band itself. Its own bio material declares the quartet to be a “culinary disgrace,” “the newest concept in entertainment” and a champion of “drive-thru metal.”
The yucks don’t stop there, though. Friday night’s Mac Sabbath show will sport opening sets by Metalachi (a Hollywood troupe that proudly proclaims to be the “world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band”) and Okilly Dokilly (a Phoenix metal band whose members dress like, and sing tunes inspired by, “The Simpsons” character Ned Flanders).
It’s enough to make you think Friday night ought to be Halloween rather than St. Patrick’s Day.
Progressive-minded string-music fans, take note. Banjo stylist Noam Pikelny is on his own this winter and spring.
Usually known for his work in Punch Brothers, Pikelny has released four very different solo recordings that reveal shades of traditional and progressive bluegrass and Americana music. But his newest, “Universal Favorite,” is a solo work in every sense of the term. It’s a collection of 12 tunes, half of which are originals, featuring just vocals and banjo (See review, Page 18).
That’s also the setting that Pikelny will play in for his Live at Ludlow Garage show Saturday in Cincinnati. There will be no band, no rhythm section and no Punch Brothers. You’ll only hear one of today’s most industrious instrumentalists performing solo.
Punch Brother fans might also want to plan ahead a bit this weekend, as another member of the band will perform in Lexington on March 27: Chris Eldridge will continue his guitar duet project alongside Julian Lage with a performance for “The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour” at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 East Third Street. The two are promoting their second and newest collaborative album, “Mount Royal.” “The WoodSongs” session will include acclaimed Americana singer Aoife O’Donovan.
Want more? Then mark off Aug. 12 on your summer calendar. That’s when the full Punch Brothers lineup and I’m With Her, O’Donovan’s all-star trio project with Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, play the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati (8 p.m., $30-$50). Tickets are already on sale through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.