Black Sabbath - Born Again
Warner Bros. Records
Black Purple Metal
9 songs (41:04)
Release year: 1983
Black Sabbath, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Jerrol
Archive review

After having been an avid fan of Heavy Metal for more than a decade, which began for me in the mid 80s, I started looking to the past for finding new music when quality CDs became harder to find in the 90s. I was already familiar with the Ozzy and Dio eras of Black Sabbath as well as a fan of Deep Purple. It was during this searching that I found out that Ian Gillian and Sabbath joined forces to release Born Again in 1983. I immediately went in search for this disc, wondering why I had not discovered it until then as well as hoping it would be the most amazing listening experience of my life. Unfortunately, after securing a copy, I was sadly disappointed not because the album is bad but that it just did not live up to the enormous expectations that I had set for it. Over the years Born Again has definitely grown on me and, in hindsight, I think it was just weirder then I thought it would be compared Sabbath’s previous works.

The upbeat opener, Trashed, gets things off to a boisterous start. Musically, much like the Deep Purple classic Highway Star, it gives the one the feeling to roaring down the highway with unthinkable speed, only this time the devil is driving and he has had just downed a liter of Jose Cuervo and is chucking empty beer cans out the window. All this matches the lyrical content of the song but more importantly, Trashed, showcases Gillian’s amazing vocal range, his screams are just as amazing as they were with Deep Purple

The next track continues a Sabbath tradition of weaving in an ambient interlude, with Stonehenge. I cannot listen to this track without thinking of the damn funniest scene in Spinal Tap when the miniature replica of Stonehenge lowers to the stage with the little dude dancing around it. Every metal fan should see this movie even just for this scene, damn funny movie. Ok…back to Born Again.

Gillian grabs you with his maniacal laughter drags into the darkness that is Disturbing The Priest, one of the highlights of Born Again. This song follows familiar pathways of earlier Sabbath fare, from its evil opening riff to its wicked ambience in the middle all punctuated by an ending with such a frenzied enthusiasm that even Ozzy would have difficulty recreating it.

After yet another interlude called The Dark which bleeds into the strangely twisted intro of Zero The Hero which grows into another one of Iommi’s deep, slow classic riffs. This is one of the few moments on the album that everything works well with the bass heavy production, which I will touch on later. This is undeniably my favorite song on Born Again it has all the elements you would expect from Sabbath.

Sabbath takes you from the best moment of the album to the worst with Digital Bitch. While the song has a similar pace to opener Trashed, but it definitely does not have the same depth. The tone of the guitar is very annoying but the killing blow is the lyrics, making stabs at Sharon Ozbourne (Arden), are just plain horrible and quite sophomoric.

After the chaos that is Digital Bitch we find Sabbath venturing into unfamiliar territory with their power ballad title track, Born Again. Even though Gillian puts on an impressive soul-filled performance and the guitars have a nice mournful feel to them, I am still always left dumbfounded as to why this is on a Black Sabbath album. It seems sadly misplaced. Fortunately this is not a common path traveled by Iommi and company.

Is it just me or did Sammy Hagar swipe the riff of Hot Line for I Can’t Drive 55. This is a decent mid-paced rocker which is highlighted by an amazingly fast guitar solo, which shows that Iommi can throw it down if he wants to. Besides the solo the song really does not have much more to offer, it is a good song but is rather unmemorable.

The final song, Keep It Warm, starts off with a strong, heavy guitar riff which leads into a nice blues influenced performance from Gillian. The song has a nice sing-along chorus and the soloing is strong, changing pace which gives the song a good balance. It is a safe way to finish of one of the oddest albums in the Black Sabbath discography.

There has been much finger pointing over the years about the production of Born Again over the years. Ian Gillan has stated that the production was originally great but Geezer took the rough mixes to another studio and it was released with the bass completely cranked up, giving the record a very muddy sound quality. They were told that the album was unplayable on the radio. I have also read that Geezer blamed co-producer Robin Black on the production. Whichever the case, the album does have a muddy sound to it which works at times on the album but fails at others.

Overall, Born Again may be the Ugly Duckling of the Sabbath albums but it is unquestionably the most diverse album they have ever released. Through its peaks and valleys, Iommi throws down many great solos while Gillian puts on an impressive performance throughout. If you are a fan of Sabbath and have not checked out this album, you most definitely should. It is undeniably an intriguing period in the history of Black Sabbath.

Killing Songs :
Trashed, Zero The Hero, Disturbing The Priest
Jerrol quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Black Sabbath that we have reviewed:
Black Sabbath - 13 reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Black Sabbath - Classic Albums - Paranoid (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Black Sabbath - Headless Cross reviewed by Adam and quoted 81 / 100
Black Sabbath - Forbidden reviewed by Khelek and quoted 65 / 100
Black Sabbath - Mob Rules reviewed by Khelek and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 22 reviews click here
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