It is not like any other Black Sabbath album. Like many of their records, Ozzy is not the vocalist. Unlike any others, Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) is. Born Again, the11thstudio album by the titans, was recorded in May of 1983 at The Manor Studio in England, and was released on August 7, 1983. It is also different from any other Black Sabbath album, not only because of the inclusion of Gillan, but also because of the song structures and the pure sound itself. In fact, originally, the record wasn’t intended to be billed as an offering from Black Sabbath, but as a yet unnamed “super group.” The record company, however, insisted on the established brand.
“His shriek is legendary,” said guitarist Tony Iommi of Ian Gillan. Bill Ward returned to play the drums, and Geezer Butler rounded out the rhythm section on base guitar. This record, though containing all the original instrumentalists, is utterly different and absolutely nothing like the usual sound of the band. Absent is the normally eerie feel which they’re known for, but (newly) present is an instantly classic record that would go down in history as the best negatively critiqued line-up in metal history!
The ’83 recording was awful, but the album was remastered in 2011, which helped a lot. Iommi’s riffs, though different, are incredible (as usual). Butler is consistent and trustworthy. And Ward’s drumming is some of his best (IMO). But, honestly, it’s Gillan who steals the show (and album). I do not think that there is a record before or since that expresses the brilliance of his vocal abilities as is found on Born Again.
The controversial album cover, by Steve “Krusher” Joule, has gone down in history, as well, as simply one of the worst ever. Bill Ward hated the cover, Ian Gillan vomited when he saw it, but Tony Iommi liked and approved it. However, for every critic that hated or hates the record, there can be found 10 Metal fans that rank it as the best Black Sabbath record (at least since the original line-up), and you can count me in with them! And other, more famous Metalheads favor Born Again: Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under; former Cannibal Corpse) places it as his favorite Black Sabbath, period. Lars Ulrich (Metallica) ranks it as one of the best from the band. I think that the Vision of the line-up and the track collection was simply before it’s time. This record is meant to be heard today!
Favorite Songs: Born Again; Hotline; Zero the Hero