BLACK SABBATH — Born Again

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2.98 | 69 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1983

Filed under Heavy Metal
By BLACK SABBATH

Tracklist

1. Trashed (4:16)
2. Stonehenge (1:58)
3. Disturbing The Priest (5:49)
4. The Dark (0:45)
5. Zero The Hero (7:35)
6. Digital Bitch (3:39)
7. Born Again (6:34)
8. Hot Line (4:52)
9. Keep It Warm (5:35)

Total Time 41:06

Line-up/Musicians

- Ian Gillan / vocals
- Tony Iommi / guitar, flute
- Geezer Butler / bass
- Bill Ward / drums

- Geoff Nicholls / keyboards

About this release

7 August 1983
Vertigo, Warner

Reissued as Deluxe Edition in 2011 with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. The Fallen (previously unreleased album session outtake) (4:30)
2. Stonehenge (extended version) (4:47)
3. Hot Line (4:55)
4. War Pigs (7:25)
5. Black Sabbath (7:11)
6. The Dark (1:05)
7. Zero The Hero (6:55)
8. Digital Bitch (3:34)
9. Iron Man (7:41)
10. Smoke On The Water (4:56)
11. Paranoid (4:18)

Total Time 56:27

Tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 were recorded live at The Reading Festival, August 27, 1983.

Thanks to Raff, Pekka, Lynx33, Unitron for the updates

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Unitron
Black Sabbath - Born Again

"Born Again" is the eleventh studio album by heavy metal band Black Sabbath. By 1983, Dio and Vinny Appice had left the band due to disagreements and misunderstandings over the making of the live album "Live Evil", so the rest of Black Sabbath had to find a new vocalist and drummer. Original drummer Bill Ward rejoined for Born Again, and they recruited Deep Purple's Ian Gillan to be on vocals. Ian Gillan plus 3/4 of Black Sabbath sounds like a perfect match, and unlike most, I certainly find it to be a perfect combination.

"Born Again" is one of Black Sabbath's darkest and doom-filled albums to my ears, but with a perfect balance between driving songs like opener 'Trashed' and the dark dirges of other tracks. The beginning of 'Disturbing the Priest', which I assume is a play-on-words of disturbing the peace, definitely fits the cover with it's terrifying shrieks and Iommi's signature sludgy guitar. The short opening for 'Zero the Hero', the dark ambient sounding 'The Dark', sounds like it came straight out of a horror movie soundtrack. Finally, 'Digital Bitch' opens up with one of the nastiest sounding guitar riffs I've heard, and I mean that in the best way possible. It really gets you ready for the rest of the fast and catchy song.

While this is unmistakably Black Sabbath, with Ian Gillan on vocals it's hard not to hear some elements of Deep Purple within the album. The best example of this is in my favorite song from the album, 'Zero the Hero'. When Gillan sings the name of the song, it sounds right out of a Deep Purple song. The song maintains a constant dark driving riff and a haunting chromatic walk down the scale. While I'm talking about this song, I may as well mention Iommi's amazing guitar solo in the middle of the song. The guitar really sings, and just enhances the sound mixed with the haunting notes being played. For a little bit of trivia, the short 'Stonehenge' has an interesting live performance story that may sound familiar. The band wanted a Stonehenge replica for the Born Again tour, but the replica was accidentally too big. This is what most likely inspired the famous scene in "This is Spinal Tap", where they get a Stonehenge replica that is too small.

The main complaint that I've seen for this album is the production. The production is definitely not the best I've heard, but I personally find the muffled raw sound benefits the dark and raw sound of the album. The only issue I have with the production is sometimes the guitar solos can be a bit too high-pitched at a loud volume, so I have to turn it down a bit while they play. The album cover is also another part of the album that is often seen as a negative. I personally think it has some sort of charm to it. The evil devil-baby featured on the cover looks like a still of a puppet from a stop-motion short.

Overall, the album is definitely an acquired taste and perhaps a love-it-or-hate-it album. If you don't have an issue with muffled productions and are a fan of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, then I highly recommend giving it a try. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
Conor Fynes
'Born Again' - Black Sabbath (4/10)

By all means, a collaboration between Black Sabbath and Ian Gillan should have ruled. Sabbath had spurred the heavy metal sound, and Gillan had dished out some of hard rock's most enduring records with Deep Purple. Not only that, but Sabbath now had a precedent to become awesome with a new vocalist. Dio's induction led to "Heaven And Hell", the album that saved the band from crippling mediocrity. "Born Again" has no such luck, however. The songwriting standards are back to the way they were with "Technical Ecstasy", and for whatever reason, Gillan's vocals to not fit nearly as well as they should have. "Born Again" is a disappointing chapter in the band's history.

Although not as articulate as Dio, Ian Gillan had an amazing voice throughout the 70's. Particularly in his shrieking falsettos, there is no doubt that he was one of his era's vocal greats when it came to hard rock. Listening to his performance on "Child In Time" from Deep Purple's "In Rock" album makes it clear that his haunting voice would have worked well with Sabbath's relatively dark sound. Although many argue that his bluesy style does not fit with the heavier sound that Black Sabbath goes for, it could have been incredible. Sadly this potential is far from realized; the whole thing sounds underbudgeted and generally uninspired. Gillan's falsettos sound great for the most part, but the songwriting falls flat for the most part. Barring the moments where he sets his voice on fire, Gillan's performance feels like he doesn't care about the music, and who can blame him? The composition falls flat more often than not; there isn't a melody of riff that sticks after the album's over.

The biggest fault here is undoubtedly the production and mixing. Apparently, the rough cuts were accidentally published rather than the refined mix, and if that is true, it's a pretty juvenile slip-up for a veteran band to make. The album sounds like a rough demo, or a work-in-progress. As a result, the more upbeat 'rock' tracks are completely unenjoyable to listen to, with only Gillan's shrieks clambering above the mess. However, something very unexpected happens as a by-product of this. Also thanks in part to Gillan's eerie falsettos, this is the darkest Sabbath have sounded since the debut. The slower tunes and ambient interludes are actually pretty good, and the lo-fi sludge gives it a diabolical atmosphere that I might compare to some black metal. "Disturbing The Priest" and "Zero The Hero" rekindle this evil sound. Further proof that not everything is black or white, especially when it comes to music.

"Born Again"s creepy vibe is not near enough to save it from being considered one of Sabbath's weakest efforts, sadly. Taking into account the fact that most of the album still defaults on conventional hard rock songwriting, it becomes nearly unlistenable when paired with a production that sounds like it was engineered by a studio intern. It might be worth checking out for Ian Gillan friends, but this is a chapter in Black Sabbath's history that is best left forgotten.
Stooge
This album had the ingredients to be special. Ian Gillan was one of the greatest voices of 70s rock and metal. Adding him to the Sabbath trio of Iommi, Butler, and Ward, this sounds promising indeed. From a song perspective, there is some stuff here that isn’t too bad. “Trashed”, “Disturbing The Priest” and “Zero The Hero” have their moments, but this is still a rather challenging listen.

The mix has got to be one of the worse there is. Aside from Ian Gillan’s possessed-by-a-demon delivery, the instrumentation just blends together in a bit of a mess.

You always hear about Seventh Star not being a true Black Sabbath album, but Born Again is certainly a different album from what the metal godfathers would churn out. The best way for me to describe it would be that so called classic Sabbath would set such a dark and disturbing atmosphere but it felt pretty organic, whereas Born Again sounds like it’s trying to make a scary record but in a cliché fashion. I guess it could scare a child, but kids are easy to frighten.

I usually forget about the second side entirely except for the fact one song is humorously titled “Digital Bitch”. The second side actually sounds like a completely different approach. Gillan’s voice sounds a bit more natural, and the hard rock style of the songs is a better fit for him. Like I said though, I usually forget the second side.

This is one of those albums that I have to be in the right mood to listen to, which doesn’t say much for it. I’d save this for the die-hard fans of Ian Gillan and the members of Sabbath.
arcane-beautiful
This album gets a hard time...I can see why...but I disagree. The album isn't too bad...it's not their best by far, but to be honest i enjoyed it and theirs some underlooked Sabbath classics that may never see the light of day again.

All the purists raved and squeezed their nipples due to the fact that Ian Gillan joined the band...and saying "oh, it doesnt sound like Sabbath anymore...BANDS CHANGE...DEAL WITH IT.

I think Gillians vocals are amazing on this album, and he really is a great vocalist, and amazing at head voice, but their are some flaws with the album...

The mixing is quite poor, with the guitars at time having too much echo and sounding muddled up, the vocals at times being watered down...and some other things that could have been perfected...but hey...it's the 80's, lighten up a little.

It's hard trying to give this album a rating, but I'll settle saying its a great album, with some slight poor moments and flaws...but hey, nothing is perfect.

1. Trashed - I remember seing the music video for this song, and loving it (but only figuring it was Sabbath when seeing Iommi, playing like a praying mantis). Great chorus and amazing vocals. You can see where bands like Candlemass got their influence from. 10/10

2. Stonehenge - Nice atmospheric instrumental. 9/10

3. Disturbing The Priest - Love Gillians crazy cackles. Interesting arrangement and lyrics. Good chorus. 9/10

4. The Dark - Just a bit of noise really. Nice build up. 8/10

5. Zero The Hero - Pretty cool main riff (apparently Gunz n Roses borrowed it for Paradise City). A bit too cheesy at times, but it makes up for it. A bit too long to be honest. 8/10

6. Digital Bitch - Reminds me of Judas Priest. Great lyrics. Cheesy, but it works. 9/10

7. Born Again - Great intro. I love how free the vocals are. Reminds me of Faith No More. 9/10

8. Hot Line - Great chorus. Very 80's (almost reminiscent of Ozzy's Ultimate Sin album). Vocals at the end are amazing. 10/10

9. Keep It Warm - Bit filler for ending, but ok I guess. 8/10

CONCLUSION: As an album, I don't find it annoying as Paranoid, but their are some weak moments...but it makes up for it with some great songs.
bonnek
Born Again is without doubt Sabbath's most maligned album. Given the strong albums that preceded and the fact that Ian Gillan had joined for the vocals, it is no surprise that many people were very disappointed. I had pretty much ignored the album as well and only knew one song Zero the Hero from a cover by Godflesh.

I must say I wasn't half as disappointed as anticipated, meaning this isn't the worst Sabbath album. One remark though, the sound is really really bad. The overblown and over-reverbed 80’s production has squashed all possible power out of this album. It’s one big muddy plastic murk, devoid of dynamics and edge.

But onto the music now. Trashed is an OK opener. Give this a remix and it would be good. The second track however gave me a bit of a startle. Much to my surprise I knew this Disturbing the Priest song, again from a cover, this time by Psychotic Waltz (I though it was just an old demo song of their own making, I had no clue it was a Sabbath cover). It’s a very strong track, very progressive for Sabbath. It's so haunted, dark and dissonant. Had Iommi been listening to Bauhaus when writing this?

Zero the Hero is almost industrial metal. Gillan’s vocals aren’t entirely appropriate here though. His bluesy vocals don’t sit well with the ominous main theme. Dark, spooky, heavy, and very original again. I didn’t know Sabbath had an influence on the industrial scene (well maybe yes I did, as also Ministry did a Sabbath cover).

The rest of the album is second-rate material of the kind that also disgraced Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die. But the just those two excellent highlights are motivation enough for 2.5 stars.
The Block
No Ozzy, no problem?

I think not.

While I admit that this album isn't that bad, it is nowhere near the quality that I have come to expect from Black Sabbath. I sincerely miss Ozzy's voice, which drove this band before this. Ex-Deep Purple vocalist, Ian Gillan, just doesn't have a voice that fits Black Sabbath's style.

One of the songs that show this is "Disturbing the Priest" which features odd bass lines and weird guitar riffs. When Ozzy left, Black Sabbath changed their style to fit Ian Gillan, but it was a turn for the worst. His voice is too high to offer anything good to go along with the guitars. I don't like how they used random guitar chords to fill the gaps between the lyrics in the beginning because it gave it a cheap sound. Also the beginning is pretty weak with all Ian Gillan doing is laughing. The only part of this song that resembles old Sabbath at all is the middle where the vocals and instruments are all at relatively the same tone, creating a nice sound.

One song on this that I do like, though, is "Zero the Hero", mostly because of the pop-like riffs, and choruses. It starts off cool with good guitars by Tony Iommi. I also like how Ian Gillan's voice fits in nicely with the guitars and bass. This offers a cool sound that really carries the song. As I said before, one of my favorite parts of the song is the chorus because is has some nice heavy bass lines and a cool feel to it. The guitars in this song are absolutely superb, especially in the middle where Tony Iommi has a pretty good solo.

Sadly, Ozzy Osbourne had to leave this band so early because I saw much potential in this album, which could’ve made it great. First off Ian Gillan’s voice fits Deep Purple much more than it does Black Sabbath. Also, the album seemed to be a little repetitive, another sign that Ozzy wasn’t there, though I do like Tony Iommi’s writing ability. But, on this album all was lacking. One of the things I enjoyed the most, though, was the instrumental sections, which were quite good. Without a decent vocalist, or much thought into the songs Black Sabbath gets 2 stars for this disappointing release.
Time Signature
Trashed...

Genre: heavy metal

I am going to go against the stream and state that "Born Again" is an underrated album of sorts and that it is not a disasterous effort.

The choice was made recruit Ian Gillan after Dio had left, and that probably wasn't the best choice in the world. Ian Gillan is a great vocalist, but he just didn't fit into the Black Sabbath universe at all (he has himself described how he was out of place in so many ways - even the lyrical content was so alien to him that he couldn't remember the lyrics when performing with the band), and he was also dissatisfied with the production of the value ("I puked" was his comment) - and, truth be told, it's not Gillan best performance (according to him there were actually takes that we was much more satisfied with but which, strangely, were not chosen for the final mix).

Anyway, there are undoubtedly three quite good tracks on the album. The opening track "Trashed" is an uptempo rocker, with a wonderfully dark pre-chorus. "Disturbing the Priest" is a very midtempo song which is based on a very evil-sounding and, for Iommi, atypical opening riff. Mind you, this song was covered by Psychotic Waltz, so it can't be that bad. "Zero the Hero" is the third undeoubtedly good track of the album, which is based on groovy guitar riff which Guns 'n' Roses would later lift and use in "Paradise City". It was also covered by Cannibal Corpse, so it can't be that bad either. All three songs are unusually dark, even for Black Sabbath, and I think they are more than just decent. "Digital Bitch" is considerably weaker, but I don't think it's disastrous. It's more of a straight rocker - not a particularly memorable one (I like the chorus though and Gillan's rock 'n' roll scream just before the guitar solo), but it's okay. I quite like the title track, and I truly think that that's an underrated one. It's dark and melancholic, and its athmosphere makes me think of "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light" by My Dying Bride. It also contains some Ian Gillan signature screaming (while nowhere near his incredible vocal perfoamance on "Child in Time" back in the Deep Purple days). "Hotline" and "Keep it Warm" are run-of-the mill 80s metal tracks (but at least there are some rock 'n' roll screams on the former) and not really worth discussing.

I think the main problem with this album is not the music as such, but rather the production. The production's awful. Everything is drowned in reverb and there's way too much treble, or edge, to the lead guitar sound - so much that it's almost painful to the ear. Gillan's vocals sound awful, and if it's really true that his best takes were discarded, then, the production certainly is nothing but incompetent. That being said, I do like how there's a general dark athmosphere on the album, but I'm sure that could have been achieved anyway with better production.

"Born Again" is an underrated album, and I (mostly) enjoy listening to it, but I am not going to recommend it to anyone, because you're probably going to hate it no matter what.
Pekka
Black Sabbath meets Deep Purple, I bet people thought at the time that this was going to be grand. Later known to be a priceless source of inspiration for a legendary Spinal Tap scene some of the stage show props were way too grand, but what came of the album? Probably one of the most Trashed metal albums of all the time, rivalled only by St. Anger and the like.

It might have been the Allmusic review of this album that said that while trying to produce the heaviest album of all time, the band produced the muddiest. Yes, the sound of the album is not good, not good at all by whatever standards the previous Sabbath albums had set. Indeed rather muddy and dominated by an overpowering hi-hat whenever one is hit, it luckily doesn't suffocate the songs, which at times are of great quality. The opener Trashed is a rather forgettable but ok straight ahead rocker, but after sitting through the brief just-as-forgettable instrumental Stonegenge we get to the first great track of the album, Disturbing the Priest. Proper heaviness, just the right chord changes in the right places, great vocals by Gillan... and some loud hi-hat.

The centerpiece of the album is the pair The Dark/Zero the Hero which has a brilliant riff - later knowingly or unknowingly borrowed and slightly modified by Guns n' Roses for Paradise City - great ominous atmosphere, great solo by mr Iommi and some more good Gillan vocal work. Digital Bitch is another straight ahead rocking tune, and just as silly as the name would suggest. The chorus of this song might just be the worst thing on the album. The title track is the third great track of the album, and the most ballad-like. Some piercing Gillan falsetto there for all children in time. The last two tracks are somewhere between the previously mentioned in quality, Hot Line being the best straightforward rock tune of the album and Keep it Warm slowing it down for a fine ending. And speeding it up for a while for a nice Iommi solo section.

Overall a very uneven collection of songs, the average being quite near the middle of the rating field.

And the cover? Brilliant. Tasteless and brilliant.

Members reviews

SouthSideoftheSky
A great band 'trashed' by evil offspring!

The line up of Black Sabbath was very stable in the 70's with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward making up the band for a long time. For Heaven And Hell, Ozzy was replaced with Ronnie James Dio who stayed for two studio albums and one live album before leaving (or was kicked out depending on who you ask, I believe). During that time Bill Ward was replaced with Vinnie Appice who only played on Mob Rules. Ward was once again back in the fold for the disastrous Born Again. The vocalist here is none other than Deep Purple's Ian Gillan!

Born Again is often considered to be the worst of all Black Sabbath albums. This bad reputation is, I think, mostly justified! The reason why this album really didn't work is simple: there are not enough good songs. In fact, there are only three decent tracks in Trashed, Disturbing The Priest and Zero The Hero, the latter two being introduced by short instrumentals. These instrumentals are called Stonehenge and The Dark respectively, and while there is nothing outstanding about them at all, they are actually among the better moments of the whole album! The rest of the album is just weak. Especially the latter half of it with really bad songs like Digital Bitch and Hot Line. The titles of these songs alone should deter any serious music fan! The full lyrics are even worse; 'keep away from the digital bitch, she's so rich, digital bitch' This is just a complete embarrassment! Indeed, a look at the cover should be enough! Almost everything about this creation is awful or weak or both.

Zero The Hero is an interesting song in one respect, though. It might be seen as an ancestor to Rap Metal! Gillan almost raps the lyrics over a groovy bass driven backdrop.

I honestly don't know if the whole idea of bringing Ian Gillan into the band was bad from the start or if they just couldn't write any decent material at this time. Gillan is a great performer and I really like the other bands he has been in including Gillan, The Ian Gillan Band and, of course, Deep Purple. Regardless of what the real reason is behind this abomination of an album, this is for completionists only. These long time fans, like me, can chose between laughing and crying while listening to Born Again! I try hard to do the former, but the great name of one of my all time favourite bands is dragged in the dirt here! I have to cry!

Best avoided!

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