Somewhere in the deepest recesses of the Budos Band‘s influence file, tucked between vintage Ethio-jazz and golden-age ’70s instrumental funk, there’s a dusty matte-black folder marked “DOOM.” The Budos’ interest in classic metal of the ’70s and ’80s was only rarely alluded to through their first couple albums and brought to a subtle forefront on III. (Not for nothing is the record’s most menacing cut, “Black Venom.”) And who else would you call up to be a backing band for a soul-searing Charles Bradley cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” for last year’s Record Store Day?
With Burnt Offering, that hesher undercurrent becomes even more prominent, even if — refer to Funkadelic’s ’78 genre-busting “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock” for more info — it’s just a fine-tuned tweak of the stylistic dial. The allusive titles are more jean-jacket-patch appropriate (“Black Hills”; “Magus Mountain”; “Turn and Burn”), and the glowering-wizard cover art, provided by drummer Brian Profilio, is worthy of a High on Fire sleeve. The intensity is accordingly cranked up a notch, too: Guitarist Thomas Brenneck’s Steve Cropper twang mutates into gnarled Buck Dharma wails on “Aphasia,” the horn section’s solos in “Into the Fog” and “Shattered Winds” reposition Maceo Parker’s wailing as a version of distorted feedback, and the gravelly fuzz of the title cut will make you believe that a Farfisa can shred. But it’s still got the DNA of dance music to it, as any band that takes cues from Southern soul and Afrobeat should.