Born Again review by Black Sabbath

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1983
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.5 (27 votes)
Black Sabbath: Born Again
2

Sound — 9
While most people were introduced to Black Sabbath by any of their first six albums, or maybe their most popular compilation: We Sold Out Souls For Rock And Roll or maybe even Heaven And Hell. Few were introduced by the band or even like the albums released after the departure of Ronnie James Dio. I think this is a mighty fine way to be introduced to the band, like I was, as this is the closest album to their most harraled releases. Dark, morbid and horribly woeful, set against the back drop of a very plain and dated production job. While some will complain that the tracks are bleak and boring or even lifeless, the material is actually quite strong and direct. One only needs to look at the album cover and title to be reminded why this album is saturated in darkness and gloom. The first side and beginning of side two is extremely fast, save for the two seque pieces. Side Two is a bit more slower and reflective, but both sides feature a song that has a tempo from the other. Disturbing The Priest is perhaps the worst song on the album. It's a throbbing mid tempo number with sludgy riffs, slow atmospheric sections with contrast as we get plenty of evil laughter and demonic cries mixed with some quiet singing. Bill's awesome drum work is the true highlight here. Zero The Hero is probably the best known track on the album. Tony's primitive chugging riff, which could have easily fit on Paranoid or Master Of Reality, is underlined nicely by Geezer's driving bass. It does become quite repetitive and the idea is beaten into the ground by the length of track, standing at seven-and-a-half minutes. The solo in the middle is pure bliss, complete with cautious effect pedals to add to the snarling tone set forth by Geezer's almost-psychedelic bass line. Digital Bitch is one of the better tracks on the album, and the verses head bang with authority and Bill is drumming like a madman. Hot Line is another fast-paced rocker, with a riff borrowed by many since 1983, with it's amazing simplicity. Geezer has a grooving bass line, Tony has two awesome solos, Bill's drumming continues to reveal its Jazz influence and Ian screams like a banshee, especially on the end, which seem to meet brand new heights. This is also a better song on the album and gives further proof that the second side is far better than the first. Keep It Warm is the obligatory ballad in the same tradition of Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules, ending with a slower song, but this time it's a down tempo ballad. This is a heartfelt tune with a bluesy feel providing a sense of sadness and understanding for a loved one. A nice downtime kind of track to end the album. The title track's placement is the only flaw on the album. It would have made a better closer, not just because of it's atmosphere but because it's the best song on the album. Make sure your not depressed when hearing this woeful tale, as it goes through phase after phase of pessimism. Feel your romantic hardships brought to life as you are hammered by the pounding drums. Feel your buried rage manifest with the aggressive screamed chorus, your heart becomes the target of the 'Mutant Gods' as they 'control your mind and use your mind for fortune and fame. You'll likely find your freedom become bloodless, like 'Grey and plastic retards all floating in circles'. And as your soul drifts admist the 'Fruits of new sensations", the final verses cement the evil deeds with a riff cast forth straight from the depths of Hell. I'm not kidding, the way this track flows is one of the most morbidly beautiful successes in music ever! And remember, this was released in 1983, not 2004, when all music is about is life being 'shitty'. The song ends with a minute and a half guitar solo that is so beautifully meticulous and precise, it's gut wrenching and sorrowful, yet brightly optimistic in it's delivery. Pure slab of taste and class, never bested by anything that preceded it.

Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are direct and very literal while other times they are evasive and mystical. The direct songs from a lyrical point of view are Trashed, Keep It Warm, Zero The Hero, which are about getting drunk, ode to life on the road, laziness, respectively. The evasive lyrics are Disturbing The Priest, Born Again and Hot Line, which can be about anything. Digital Bitch is an example of both styles blending together nicely. It has lyrics denouncing the idea of someone, whom is born into riches, having any kind of integrity.

Overall Impression — 9
Zero The Hero, Digital Bitch and the title track are the most impressive songs on the album. Born Again is Sabbath's darkest, thickest, most evil-sounding slab of metal with Ian adding a maniacal vocal by screaming, howling, and wailing like he's possessed. The classic Sabbath core return to their bluesy roots of the Ozzy-era albums. It's too bad this lineup fell apart, as it probably would have resulted in more great albums. But the only good thing about this being a 'One Off' album is it EVENTUALLY led to the Tony Martin Era, which is arguably the greatest era Sabbath has/will ever see.

37 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jøhnny
    Oh, wasn't expecting this: A review of a Non-Ozzy Sabbath album is full of Ozzy fanboy comments... Come on, Ozzy era is the most popular, yes, but Dio and Ian Gillan are much better singers, and Sabbath was much better with them. Ozzy is by far one of the most overrated Metal singers ever. Go on fanboys, why aren't you whining already? Before you say "0mg u ****er listen toh Master of Reality!!1" I'll just say this: I have the six first Sabbath albums, Heaven and Hell, Born Again and Dehumanizer, which is Black Sabbath's best album, so I know what Ozzy era Sabbath sounds like and I know what I'm talking about. But about this review: Pretty nice one. It's good to see that some people appreciate also the Sabbath albums that don't have Ozzy's vocals, and aren't typical Ozzy fanboys. Born Again is a great album, and every fan of classic Heavy Metal should listen to it.
    OJ12
    if you like metal, music and understand whats rock you will understand why Ozzy's voice is great.
    shredtildeath
    Tony Martin era the greatest?! Not in this universe. Do yourself a favour, listen to Master of Reality and remind yourself that while Ozzy is now a tool, his vocals were a vital part of what made Sabbath kick so much ass. The Dio albums are also killer, but with Ozzy they had that special something which they don't really have in any other era.
    shaymack37
    I'm twenty-five and have listened to almost every Black Sabbath album and owned most that I listened to. Honestly, this is my favorite Sabbath album. My Dad introduced me to this on cassette when I bought my first Metallica cd. I love Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, Dehumanizer and Cross Purposes, but I think this one's the best. It's just over the top, with Tony playing fast riffs and solos and Ian screaming his heart out it's just unforgettable.
    swave75
    I love Disturbing the Priest! I love this whole album. Lots of great riffs though the bass is kinda lost in it.
    Ggz
    Although I agree that Born Again is one of Sabbath's top 10 albums, I disagree with much of the analysis in this review - or just don't understand it. Disturbing the Priest is a great tune. It was inspired by a priest in the church next door to where Sabbath rehearsed for this album. He complained often because the band, literally, disturbed him. Born Again gets a lot of criticism for the cover and the production, but it's a great album with creative riffs and a unique, dark and heavy sound. Gillain was a great follow-up to Dio, but the pending Deep Purple reunion brought this line up to a premature end. In terms of comparison with Tony Martin, Dio and Ozzy. There is none. Dio was their best vocalist - by far. One is entitled to his preferences, but Dio is just more talented as a singer. I understand those who like the Ozzy years better, but Dio's supremacy among this cadre of rock singers can't be objectively disputed. Ozzy was a great front man and the first six Sab albums are among my all-time faves, but he's not much of a musician. Listen to Iommi talk about how working with Dio really opened up the songwriting because the songs could go beyond his riffs, which Ozzy's melodies often mimicked. Gillain is great; no need to get into that. Tony Martin is a good singer too. I was particularly impressed when I heard him handle some Dio-era Sabbath, but singers aside, the band suffered without Geezer. Cross Purposes, I think, is the best Tony Martin album because Geezer's there. His bass work gives Iommi's riffs a driving, bottom end and Geezer is the band's lyricist. Lyrically, Tony Martin doesn't have the chops - "Sabbath Stones"? Lastly, Dehumanizer is far from a mess. It's Mob Rules meets Born Again. It's a great album.
    Rock40
    Born Again was a great Sabbath album, but it is sad that Gillian never publicly would acknowledge the work he did there. He must have enjoyed it, however, as he recently remade another version of Trashed and featured Iommi. I have to say though that the truly best work with Sabbath comes from Dio RIP. I love the Ozzy stuff also, but Dio took it to another level. Of all the Dio era music Dehumanizer may just be the best, as it is different and harder than the rest. Long live Black Sabbath!!!
    luis a martinez
    Looking back,The Martin\Iommi era recordings hold up better than the Ozzy era. Tony knew he couldn't just slide around two note power chords like he did in the early 70s. And Martin helped step up his game. Song per song, Eternal Idol is the best sabbath album. Dehumanizer was a disaster. Dio's vocal mix drooled all over the album. Ian and Ronnie better than Ozzy? Never. Remember early Ozzy just read the vocals in low notes. Not until (Bloody,sabatage,Never say die), did Ozzy start singing. Finally,the vocal tracks on his first two albums with Randy set him apart from any other singer in music history.
    FVD
    Born Again was brilliant despite the production and the album cover. Track down the Unmixed Demos plus the unreleased track "The Fallen." At least you can listen to the album without the shoddy production. Sounds great too. I started listening to this album around 1997 just before the tragic death of Princess Diana. I kinda was reminded of her everytime I listened to Keep It Warm. Hotline was awesome. Loved the riffs and Gillan doing what he does best. I wouldn't say that Disturbing the Priest was the worst song on the album. Gillan's screaming and maniacal laughter really added a whole new touch to the band. Loved all the tracks actually. Perhaps they should remix this album in the future AND add in The Fallen too. As for the best Lead Singer debate the Ozzy fanboys do annoy me though. I love the Tony Martin era too. Cross Purposes and Tyr gets alot of plays lately. I do need to track down Headless Cross and listen to that more though. I was originally put off by Tony Martin mentioning Satan in his lyrics but I'm very much over that now. Forbidden on the other hand I recall it wasn't too bad. Must track down the Bonus Track too. And I love The Eternal Idol too. Overall Dio Sabbath reigns supreme for me. Loved Glenn Hughes on Seventh Star too. Hope Tony and Glenn gets to record another album in the not too distant future too.
    WibbleWobble
    Hot Line is great fun to hear and play, fair comment on this album but the awful production did it no favours at all
    masteryan
    i like forbidden. Download the Japanese bonus track "Loser gets it all." That song is awesome. Same with Kiss of Death
    Eddyripdeal
    Imagine we would have missed Sabbath with Ozzy or Ronnie or.... Sabbath is great in any way. I love all their stuff
    AllJudasPriest
    Jugulator_cro wrote: Tony Martin Era, which is arguably the greatest era Sabbath has/will ever see. He did say "arguably". But I agree with him.
    Since you quoted me I will assume the 'HE' you mentioned was me, unfortunately I would've responded sooner had I not been called a male twice in the same quote. No big deal. Tony's era was brilliant. Tony is the best singer Sabath has ever had strictly on a talented level. Ozzy's material may be the most popular but you name me one band that is worth remembering who's BEST material is their most popular and I will show you how you can squeeze a Camel through the eye of a Sewing Needle. To elaborate that last analogy for the feeble minded Ozzy fanboys who obvious will NOT get it: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE SIMPLISTIC UNIMAGINITIVE ONE-DIMENSIONAL NO DEPTH REQUIRED MUSIC TO BE BETTER THAN A BANDS MORE CREATIVE STUFF.
    Shrub74
    Everything after Dio is so underrated. This was a good album, so was Headless Cross (Headless what? I hear you say) and Cross Purposes and nearly every album they put out. But there's one thing we can all agree on. Forbidden Sucked Balls.
    the-stuge
    Ive had this album ages... the best song on there is Zero the hero. i like the vocals alot, better than Dio but ill always prefer the Original Ozzy.
    Phil Collins
    Damn.. I remeber being totally enthralled with this album in highschool. I loved every minute of this thinh and though it was Sabbath's best record/lineup (at the time). But sweet jesus this had some of Iommi's most devasting riffs and the atmosphere was just scary. I was also a massive Purple fan too so the addition of Gillian was just ****ing awesome in my mind. Digital Bitch, Trashed, ****ing Disturbing The Priest...oh my God..... And then there's Keep It Warm... one of my all time favorite Sabbath songs.. It wasn't popular thats for sure but it was a great album if you just wanted no frills stright heavy metal with over the top vocals. I' havent listened to this in so long so I thank the reviewer for reminding me of this again. Thank you. You know what? **** Metallica, **** Slayer, **** Ozzy Osbourne, **** Iron Maiden, **** every metalcore and trend core band on the current whos who list...just go listen to this. This is heavy ****ing metal kids.
    Mr. Chang
    This album had a lot of potential, but like all post 1982 Sabbath albums, it's corny, aged horribly and is terribly cliched. It wasn't so much Ozzy that made those early albums great, it was those grooves and that immense rhythm section. Master of Reality was every thing that was great about them in one album.
    RobinTrower12
    I agree, besides the production quality this is pretty decent album. I was VERY surprised when I first heard that Ian sang for Black Sabbath for a time. I'm a big Deep Purple and Sabbath fan so this was quite a rare occurrence.
    RyoujokuNoAme
    One of the worst album covers ever, but still a decent album. Nowhere near as good as the Ozzy/Dio stuff, but is still good.
    masteryan
    Yay a black sabbath review. This album was great, not up to par with heaven and hell, but on par with mob rules. I can't get enough of the song Zero the Hero. Man that solo is Iommi's best. The whole album suffered with production. Sounds pretty awful. So much treble and screech. If production could've been as good as heaven and hell, this album would've had a better chance. Like Ian gillan said " I saw the album cover and puked. I listen to the album sound and puked."
    CelestialChaos
    Ian Gillan, IMO, gave the best vocal performance on a Black Sabbath album. Unfortunately, his voice was getting worn out around that time, and he really blew it out touring with BS.
    Smitty370
    Good review, i just have to disagree on Disturbing the Priest, one of my favs. But im tired of hearing this 'ozzy is the best sabbath singer' bullsh*t. Even though it was the era that made Sabbath, Sabbath, but that doesn't mean the rest of sabbath's history is garbage, it's excellent music
    Jacksabbath_44
    Tony Who??? that sabbath so-called era should be erased from our memories, well i'm sorry, re-erased because nobody remember it, or even knew it!... Dio and Ozzy made Black Sabbath the amazing institution that we know... even Iommi admits it... I love Ian Gillan, but this record is lame, even Ian himself says that he was the worst sabbath singer (i agree, because tony martin doesn't exist xD)
    Jugulator_cro
    Tony Martin Era, which is arguably the greatest era Sabbath has/will ever see.
    He did say "arguably". But I agree with him.
    wetrx95
    Wow...another 'best version of sabbath'...put it in a forum (again)! This is a review of a very specific and unique album. The primary song from this album I remember is Trashed. Holy $hit, what a headbanger. Tony's sound is just amazing and Geezer and Bill are spot on. Ian pours his soul into this one. Kinda what the band is all about...your soul (mwa ha ha ha).
    lutfish
    Can't listen to anything other than the Ozzy albums... Black Sabbath without Ozzy isn't black sabbath imo. And I'm not saying that the other singers were bad (except for Dio... I detest him, but his technically good, that's for sure) but they do not fit in black sabbath.. And I love Ian Gillan, probably more than Ozzy.. But as I said, he doesn't fit in black sabbath.
    T_money25
    Dehumanizer, which is Black Sabbath's best album" hahaha I will respectfully disagree with you on that one. I kinda thought their greatest selling, bona-fide classic Paranoid was probably a touch superior. I mean just based on critical reception, sales, and these things I have called ears. Amazing review btw. You talk the entire time how boring the riffs get and how many duds there are in the album, then give it an 8.7. Absolutely brilliant.
    Count-Gackula
    Born again is a great record, my favourite song is trashed, blows my mind away!! As for the comparison being made i agree with h3llh4mm3r, every incarnation is awesome, each and every one of them have a magic of its own... But i have to say that Dio, Gillan, Hugues and Martin write lyrics to the songs, something ozzy has done almost never even with his solo band.
    h3llh4mm3r
    Enuff with the Ozzy-Dio-Gillan-Martin comparisons. Each incarnation of Sabbath was a different band, period. And Born Again is an awesome album in it's own right.
    Rufusftw
    Black Sabbath was the best it could of been when Ozzy was frontman Dio just made them sound like a florist for tough guys.
    kia77
    **** tony martin and dio ozzy years were and always will be the best years for black sabbath