Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Black Sabbath - Born Again

Today (August 7th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of UK release of Born Again, the eleventh studio album from British heavy metal band Black Sabbath; it would be released in the US on October 4th of 1983. Although panned by critics, it charted at number 44 in New Zealand, number 39 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 37 in Germany, number 14 in Norway, number 7 in Sweden, and number 4 in the UK.

This was the first and only Sabbath album to feature Ian Gillan (formerly of Deep Purple) on vocals. The record also featured the return of drummer Bill Ward, who had left the group previously due to alcohol issues. The rest of the line up was Tony Iommi (guitar and flute), Geezer Butler (bass) and Geoff Nicholls (keyboards).

Side one opens with “Trashed”, which was also released as a single. The fast and furious rocker describes an alcohol-fueled car race around the grounds of the recording studio during which Gillan crashed Ward’s car. It ends with a scorching guitar solo by Iommi.

The B-side to that single was “Stonehenge”, a two minute, cosmic sounding instrumental interlude.

“Disturbing the Priest” was said to be inspired by a local vicar who approached the studio during recording and asked the band to keep the music down so his choir could practice. The mood of this song about the balance of good versus evil is dark and forbidding, inspiring fear and paranoia. It feels like it stepped right out of a film like The Exorcist.

“The Dark”, a very short musical segue, plays well after the last track and leads directly to the next one.

“Zero the Hero” offers up a possibility for redemption, to stand for something bigger than one’s self.

Side two begins with “Digital Bitch”, a rapid-fire rhythm diatribe about a wealthy woman who flaunts her influence and power.

The title track “Born Again” is next. This one winds along on a slow tempo for six and a half minutes.

“Hot Line” has a solid, driving metal grind to it

The album closes out with “Keep It Warm”, a mid-tempo tune that reminds me a little of classic Led Zeppelin. The singer urges his lady to keep their love warm until he returns home from the road.

My exposure to Black Sabbath growing up was mostly from the album-oriented rock station out of Buffalo that played them as part of their rotation of classic acts. By the time I was preparing for college at the time Born Again came out in 1983, I had really shifted my gears almost completely to new-wave and such. Therefore, this album was completely off my radar.

Listening to it for this review, I certainly liked it. Sabbath showed that they could still lay down the heavy metal thunder even after a number of line-up changes. It certainly had that classic Sabbath sound musically that I knew from their earlier days of recording in the 70’s.


Kris Shaw said...

While many Sabbath fans loathe this album, I love it. The mix is a glorious, muddy mess, with everything pushed to the reds. It sounds like the mics (or your speakers) are about to blow and I love it. By the time the tour rolled around Ward was out once again and ELO drummer Bev Bevan was in. Quiet Riot opened for them here in Detroit on that tour in early 1984.

HERC said...


I, too, like the way this album sounds but sometimes if a song from Born Again pops up in a playlist or on shuffle, I skip it. So I guess I don't love it - just like it more than the average Sabbath fan. It helps to be a Deep Purple fan as well.

Was gonna ask you what you thought of 13 but then I looked it up on your site. I'd rate it half a star lower than you but we're in the same frame of mind on it.

If anyone else is curious you can read Kris's review HERE.

Listen to 13