Named after a Marc Bolan track in the Glam Bang sound that Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott seems to love so much, Diamond Star Halos is their first album since their self titled piece of excellence in 2015.
First, a mea culpa. I love the first 2 Def Leppard albums. But their kick-the-doors-down album ‘Pyromania’ leaves me cold, it seems well done and perfectly aimed but just too soft. And I feel that way about the releases when they were in their pomp, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Adrenalize’ too.
I could see how effective they were, but I wasn’t keen until the ‘Songs From The Sparkle Lounge ‘ their recent release, albeit from 2008. That one and the self-titled release were pretty special, mainly because they have the Glam and Mott The Hoople feel – Elliot’s fandom and bringing back of Ian Hunter to well-deserved public note has been lovely and Joe’s last Down N’ Outz album needs a listen – that link undoubtedly made a real difference.
So, after their high profile single album tours, what is the new Def Leppard album like?
First Impressions Of The New Def Leppard Album
Well, it sounds expensive. But it also never sounds raucous. In fact, it’s in regulation. And that will be fine for many. They aren’t wrong. Not at all.
It’s just that I could sometimes do with a little danger. Some guitars that threaten to cut me, or at least rough me up, some drums that rattle my nethers.
Diamond Star Halos doesn’t do that. But it does something so many are going to love. As Blabbermouth tell us;
‘What hits home hardest here is how relaxed DEF LEPPARD are right now.’
This is a call back to the Def Leppard of the past, the golden days of ‘Hysteria’ before they didn’t quite know where they were with ‘Slang’ (although it has moments) and strutted a little in their platform boots more recently. This is a sound so many love and revere, a sound so many remember, a sound so many will want to return to.
So it’s not what I might want, but I can appreciate that millions of others will.
Breaking It Down
A track which has been out there and made an impression is ‘Fire It Up’ and it’s clear why. This is an arena shoutalong, easy to make friends with chorus, attached to a roiling riff and a clean toned solo which rears up.
A highlight is ‘Kick’, which almost does the same thing but boasts a squashy Glamtastic beat and some backing vocal calls in the middle which take you right back to late 80’s Def Leppard.
And the album starts with the other pre-album release, ‘Take What You Want,’ which just doesn’t have backbone enough to kick us off but does pick up some groove and suddenly unpacks a very memorable chorus – so many are going to love it.
What Else Is On Offer?
Well, ‘U Rok Mi’ is rather a surprise, with its tabla and lagging beat, plus sweet soaring six-string solos taking over from each other – Messrs Collen and Campbell put the solos to bed way before they get overtired on this album – and some glitter and saccharine thrown in.
You want big? ‘Gimme A Kiss’ could be seen from space, but with its AOR verse to Hair Metal middle, it’s got something going on too. And then ‘Angels (Can’t Help You Now’ fills the studio with strings ascending on a shimmering guitar and piano.
Alison Krauss also visited and is on two songs, one of which, ‘Lifeless’, sadly lives up to its title as a Country touched tune with nothing much going on. And another track which suffers too is the mid-80s AOR of ‘SOS Emergency’ – they can surely do this sort of thing in their sleep.
But when they can end the album on the swelling vocal harmonies and Queenly guitars of ‘From Here To Eternity’, things can’t be bad at all.
So You’re Just A Bit Lukewarm About It Then
I am and it’s an entirely personal view. I’m just not so keen on that Leppard period of absolutely huge success but so many are and that’s great.
It’s produced by the band with help to create a poppy, bright and never challenging sound which is entirely appropriate.
Eclassicrock are right;
‘Def Leppard have effectively made a tribute record to themselves featuring 15 new and original songs.’
Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, it’s said. Def Leppard have just proved them wrong.