Metal Insider contributor Anthony Maisano is listening to a different metal album that was released on that day every day this year. 31 years ago today, Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan replaced Dio, and gave a whole new style to Black Sabbath with the release of Born Again.
This is the first Sabbath album since Dio’s first departure from the band. Tony recruited Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan to fill the role. Veteran Sabbath fans may also be happy to learn that original drummer Bill Ward returned to drum on this album, which, to date, makes it the last studio Sabbath appearance Ward made with them. It’s hard for me to point out much that’s really great about this album because, while it’s decent, there’s not much about it that is comparatively outstanding to me. Sure, it has great moments, like most Sabbath albums, and I think Geezer’s bass work shines through strongly on this one, but I could never love this album from issues below. “Disturbing the Priest” has always been THE track on this album for me. It’s definitely high up there in my list of favorite Sabbath tracks. Gillan’s screams, wails and laughs are just fucking AWESOME. The song is spooky and heavy, and fits perfectly with the Sabbath discography.
This really is more of a Deep Purple album than a Black Sabbath album, to me. It’s so strange for me to listen to a Black Sabbath album where the lyrics are about life and everyday activities instead of the supernatural. Even when Sabbath songs are about everyday things, they’re usually in disguise, rather than being so direct as they are on this album. I’m ALWAYS a person that advocates that differences for a band aren’t always bad, but this time, I think it’s TOO much of a drastic departure from such a legendary group. Besides a handful of tracks, I just feel I’m listening to a side project than a Sabbath album.
Favorite Tracks: “Disturbing the Priest,” “Trashed,” “Born Again.”
Now, despite what I have said, I don’t want to give the impression that I dislike this album. It’s a fine album standing on its own. It’s when I compare it to the Dio-era, the Martin-era that I love, and of course, the classic Ozzy stuff that I start to believe it pales. At the end of the day, it’s truly not a Black Sabbath album, for me. And yes, this is coming from the guy that loves Tony Martin-Sabbath, as I said above. I feel this should have been a side project, like it is now with the Iommi-Gillan Who Cares? band. It’s a fun album, and I think fans will be able to pick out cool tracks they enjoy here and there, but it’s not an album I’d hold up as a shining moment in Sabbath history. Give it a shot, though, if you never have before.