Rondellus – Sabbatum – Review


Sabbatum (The Music Cartel)
by Brian Varney

“A tribute album like no other!” screams the sticker on the jewel case and, for once, such language is not mere hyperbole. As near as I can tell, Rondellus is the name of the band here, a group of guys & gals from Estonia who play 14th century music on authentic instruments like lutes and fiddles and eerie vocals which bring Gregorian chant to mind (a clumsy comparison, I’m sure, but I don’t know hooker’s stretch-marked ass from medieval, OK?). In a fit of inspiration which can only truly be described as “bizarre,” said group decided it would be a really good idea to reinterpret 12 Black Sabbath songs in their signature style, complete with radical new arrangements and Latin translations of the lyrics and titles.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, and I’m sure a lot of folks won’t like it at all (I wasn’t much of a fan the first time through), but the more I return to it, the more I find myself being soothed and charmed by its otherworldly beauty. Plus, it’s fun to try to guess which song they’re playing. It’s hard to say if I’d give a squirt of piss without the obvious novelty aspect, but I suppose beauty is beauty, regardless of context, right? And I’m having a hard time thinking of something more beautiful than this set’s version of one of my favorite Sabbath tunes, “Planet Caravan” (or, in the Latin, “Planetarum vagatio”). I could, I suppose, say a lot about how this makes sense in some ways since Sabbath’s music always had a heavily medieval, Gothic air, but frankly, I’d rather just sit in the dark with my eyes closed and relish my enjoyment of something so beautiful that I never would’ve thought I’d like.
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