In 1983 the seemingly unthinkable happened, Ian Gillan joined Black Sabbath, how could this be? This was (and frankly still is) a little bizarre two of the great hard rock bands join together how could it possibly last, well it didn't the `Born Again' line up only lasted one album and one tour, although poor old Bill Ward didn't even last that long (he was replaced by former ELO drummer Bev Bevan for the Born Again tour.
Now lets look at the music. This album as one might expect is very different to any Sabbath album before or since due to the influence of Ian Gillan. Ian provides all the lyrics for this album and does in my opinion a excellent job. Generally the standard of song writing here is very high with `Trashed', `Zero the Hero', `Disturbing the Priest' and `Born Again'. The latter of which being particularly of note as it can be seen as Sabbath attempting a 'Power Ballad' of sorts, although they pull it off with aplomb and its not nearly as American sounding as `No Stranger to Love' from the `Seventh Star' album or the sub-Aerosmith `Feels Good to Me' from `Tyr'. In my opinion this album features Gillan's last truly great vocal performance, some say its over the top and cheesy (probably the same `fans' who didn't like Dio), but to me Gillan is perfect on this album. As always Iommi provides skull crushingly heavy riffs (see `Zero the Hero' now that's Heavy!) and some beautiful melodic solo's as well as face melters. Geezer as per usual plays excellently through out, with his thunderous bass playing. Sadly I can't really tell how well Bill's doing as the production gives poor old Bill that horrendous 80's drum sound completely removing all of Bill's wonderful feel, it's no fault of Bill's. So it's only the production that lets this magnificent metal album down. Also of note is the horrendous/ brilliant cover art work which was apparently given to Mr Iommi as a joke but he loved it!
So in conclusion don't believe the bad reputation and the `Deep Sabbath' rubbish (were they the same people who called the Dio era `Black Rainbow'? Ozzy fan boys perhaps?) this is a top quality metal album. Not to say that it's comparable to early Ozzy or Dio classics because there is nothing quite like this album. A solid 8.7 out of 10, which rounds up to 5 stars.