Recording and production
According to Tony Iommi's autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath, the band were dropped from Warner Bros. Records in 1988 after an eighteen-year deal and after Vertigo Records had also dropped them. He soon met Miles Copeland, who owned I.R.S. Records at the time. Copeland told him: "You know how to write albums, you know what people want. You do it and I'm fine with it". This persuaded Iommi to sign to I.R.S. Records.
Iommi contacted famous British drummer Cozy Powell, who had played with Jeff Beck, Rainbow, MSG and Whitesnake, among others, to see if he wanted to join Black Sabbath. Iommi and Powell started writing songs in Iommi's home with Tony Martin joining in for rehearsals. Iommi had originally had the idea of bringing Ronnie James Dio back. He soon got a call from Gloria Butler, wife and manager of Geezer Butler, who said Geezer wanted to rejoin Sabbath; this reunion with Butler never happened as Geezer had joined Ozzy Osbourne on his tour promoting No Rest for the Wicked. At the same time, Powell, who knew Iommi was looking at other singers, convinced him to let Martin stay in the band. Powell and Iommi decided to produce the album themselves.
Laurence Cottle played bass on the recording on a session-basis, but was never an official band member. Cottle did appear in the video for the title track, but was not featured in any promotional photos. For the tour, the line-up was completed by Whitesnake and Gary Moore bassist Neil Murray. The track "When Death Calls" has a guitar solo by Queen guitarist Brian May.
Conceptually, the lyrics have predominantly occult and Satanic elements, arguably the only time in the band's career where an entire album is based on such ideas rather than select songs. The song "Call of the Wild" was originally going to be titled "Hero", but when Ozzy Osbourne used that title on his album No Rest for the Wicked, Tony Iommi opted to change its title."Devil & Daughter" also had the original title "Devil's Daughter", but was changed for the same reason. "Call of the Wild" and "Devil & Daughter" are also the only songs that do not end slowly fading out with Tony Martin ad-libbing (though "Nightwing" has only the band performing fading out with no ad-libbing on Martin's part). Reportedly, according to Tony Martin, the vocals on "Nightwing" were actually the original guide vocals, due to the fact that Tony Iommi thought they sounded better than the later recordings.
According to the sleeve notes, the cover image was designed by Kevin Wimlett. The sleeve was designed by The Leisure Process at their offices in Little Portland Street London. The UK sleeve was in black-and-white, whilst the German release added colour.