Warrant - Born Again
Downboys Records
Melodic Hard Rock
12 songs (44:53)
Release year: 0
Reviewed by Mike

Well, here's 80's hair metal band Warrant back with their first studio album in 10 years. Born Again is the follow up to 1996's debacle, Belly to Belly. Since then, the band have released five live / best of compilations that I view as thinly veiled attempts to sell fans the same music that they already own. But I digress. Born Again is an aptly titled album for this band. After a series of revolving door lineup changes that basically left Warrant as a "Jani Lane & Friends" band, Lane finally quit/was fired, leading to a reunion of the other 4 members of the band. Joey Allen, Erik Turner, Jerry Dixon, and Steven Sweet then recruited Black 'N' Blue singer Jamie St. James to front the "born again" incarnation of Warrant. Love him or hate him, Jani Lane is a great songwriter. One may think that such a loss would be a death sentence for the band. However, considering the three ring circus that the Warrant camp had become, I'm not sure that Lane could have continued the band in much more than a "cover band" situation. Hence, this version of the band serves very well to dust away the ashes of the past few years and start anew.

The first question one may have is: "Does this album sound like old Warrant or old Black 'N' Blue?" The answer is: Neither. Gone is the bubble gum "cock-rock" sound of Cherry Pie that put the band on the map in the first place. Most notably, this album depends less on sing along choruses than past Warrant albums. Instead, the blues tinged rhythms and riff based verses of Turner and Allen form the backbone of the songs. As for the shredding and solos, they aren't as flashy or over the top as the band's first two albums, but Joey and Erik do make their presence known on Born Again. The songs are still hard hitting and upbeat, but the have a sleazier feel to them. Jamie St. James compliments Turner and Allen with his melodic delivery, which incidentally, is at least a register lower than his vocal performances with Black 'N' Blue. I noticed the same thing with Jamie's Americanman solo album a while back. His performance with Warrant is pretty much on par with Americanman. I wish that he would still poke into the higher octaves at least occasionally, as that would have added some more charisma and complexity to the songs. Still, Jamie does a good job on this album, and represents Warrant very well with his convincing delivery.

Although I said that Born Again is neither a copy of vintage Warrant or Black 'n' Blue, it would be fair to call this a "return to roots" for the band. With Dog Eat Dog, Warrant embraced a heavier, tough-guy attitude, quite successfully in my view. The songs were of a much more serious tone: kids playing with guns, pollution suffocating the planet by the year 2031, and other topics far removed from Cherry Pie. Warrant tried to jump on the grunge bandwagon with Ultraphobic, and into alternative land with Belly to Belly. Both were a huge deviation from what the band is all about, and were pure crap in my humble opinion. Born Again is a fun 80's rock type of album, without a doubt. However, the songs have a harder edge and an increased sleaze factor compared to Warrant's first two albums. Furthermore, Warrant of old made their bread and butter with power ballads such as Heaven, I Saw Red, and Sometimes She Cries. Born Again features only one ballad, Glimmer. It's a rather run of the mill ballad, to be quite honest; certainly a far cry from days of old.

That brings me to the Jani Lane factor. The band is more than capable of coming with a steady diet of cool hard rock tunes, but the loss of Jani is evident in a couple areas. As I mentioned, there is only one ballad on this disc, and it's nothing special. It's hard to dispute the fact that Jani Lane came up with some of the biggest and strongest ballads of the hair metal era. Say what you will about the guy, but he is a great songwriter. Although Warrant's lyrics were a bit immature in their heyday (but par for the course during the late 80's), they were coherent, and made sense for an entire song. Much of the lyrics on Born Again make little sense, and are downright ridiculous at times.

Plain and simple, Born Again is album of straight forward, good time, sleazy hard rock, 80's style. The songs are built upon riff based verses and heavy rhythms. Guitar solos and shredding are well placed, but not at all over indulgent. Allen and Turner give the songs a heavy backbone that is certain to get your neck moving throughout the album. Dirty Jack sounds most like old school Warrant on this album. Some Uncle Tom's Cabin style acoustic guitar open things up, and a prolific, gang like harmony vocal chant of "Dirty Jack" dominates the chorus lines. Each of the songs is catchy in its own rite, although no song, except for maybe Dirty Jack has that instantaneous, over the top, "gotcha" quality. Still, that's not a bad thing. Luckily, the songs on this album are much deeper than just a catchy chorus line. After all, it's not 1989 anymore, and Warrant obviously are not trying to construct a song designed for instant radio/MTV attention. It will probably take you a few more spins to allow these songs embed themselves into your memory, but rest assured they will.

Born Again marks an unlikely, yet extremely viable comeback for a band that seemed to be in dire shape not too long ago. Warrant has gone back to their roots, yet clearly has managed not to duplicate the past. Grounded in good times 80's rock, Born Again will be a clear favorite for fans of the band, and fans of 80's rock in general. Some may not be able to accept the fact that Jani Lane is not longer part of the band. But when taken for face value, Born Again is one of the stronger albums to come from a hair metal band that is still active today. While bands like Poison continue to tour living off their past hits, Warrant has delivered a great, although not mind blowing slab of hard rock. With Black 'n' Blue now disbanded (and the recently recorded Hell Yeah album unlikely to ever see the light of day, unfortunately), I will be very content to see this version of Warrant carry forward.

Killing Songs :
Devil's Juice, Dirty Jack, Hell, Ca, Down in Diamonds
Mike quoted 75 / 100
Ken quoted 80 / 100
Jeff quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Warrant that we have reviewed:
Warrant - Then And Now reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Warrant - Under The Influence reviewed by Paul and quoted no quote
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