One reason (I think), many of us who have taken up this creative venture called blogging into writing music reviews stems from not only in sharing our passion but also expressing the joy that comes when something profound infiltrates our ears.
Especially from a band the masses seemingly wrote off decades ago but through dedication, perseverance and love of the craft continues more than 40 years since their debut album. And particulary when a band member describes their new album as “career-defining.” Statements like this often backfire.
But not this time. In fact, the (probable) 2022 Album of the Year goes to Def Leppard’s Diamond Star Halos, the band’s 12th, released Friday. Recorded simultaneously over the past two years in three different countries with singer Joe Elliott in Ireland, Rick Savage on bass in England, while guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell and drummer Rick Allen resided in the United States.
Hardly unconventional, in fact, Def Leppard embraces everything that worked for them in the last 42 two years, improves on it then welcomes some new ideas that fit in with the realm of Def Leppard. Melodic hard rock but off-signature sounding ballads punctuated by delicious guitar solos along with a definitive degree of complexity that prevents a bit of staleness from settling.
The 15-song, hour long Diamond Star Halos follows a natural progression in terms of tone and sound from the overlooked 2015 self-titled release, but Def Leppard also fully steps out of their familiar box in an unprecedented way. Don’t expect instant gratification like the very satisfying Hysteria instead to each their own – as in the songs – so expect some to resonate quickly while others you might naturally dismiss upon first blush.
Find classic Def Leppard on the album’s opening track “Take What You Want” an immediate consideration into a (now needing revision) Top 10 Best Def Leppard Songs list, a fired-up rocker on “Kick” and “Slang” like charm on “Fire It Up” to start the album.
Die-hard fans will notice Def Leppard sounds immediately dialed in on “SOS Emergency,” “All We Need,” “Gimme a Kiss,” and “Unbreakable” along with a fresh cut in the oddly titled “U Rok Mi” with an immensely catchy bass which eventually carries over to blistering guitar. “Liquid Dust” doesn’t impress – at first – but do expect to eventually sing what is ultimately a generic chorus.
The last half of Diamond Star Halos yields more of the band broadening their horizons in sound and scope while bringing along some string arrangements. An interesting effort in the ballad “Goodbye For This Time” which sends Def Leppard into near uncharted territory but despite the exceptional acoustic guitar solo, it ultimately feels a bit clumsy (but just might need more time). Not so though with the grungy “Open Your Eyes” which only sounds like Def Leppard because of Elliott’s vocals. Just listen you’ll know what I mean. Album closer and the longest song “From Here to Eternity” comes straight outta the 70s without sounding like it’s from the 70s. Just listen you’ll know what I mean.
The two cuts with country and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss (also linked with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant) initially deliver mixed results with the bluesy almost country-like ballad “This Guitar” coming out a winner thanks to the great vocal dynamic between Elliott and Krauss. Then after several listens to “Lifeless,” which was hardly DOA, it eventually developed a strong heartbeat. Expect one or both to rank on the country charts. The last of the ballads in “Angels (Can’t Help You Know)” starts off quite slow before dropping the sentiment and allowing the guitars to reign.
Def Leppard used the pandemic time off wisely as the band flexed some creative musical muscles without alienating their base or the rest of their catalogue which allows Diamond Star Halos to not only breathe new life into Def Leppard, but also into today’s music which needs some oxygen.
However, Def Leppard can’t expect all fans to welcome the entire record, but all fans should expect Def Leppard to welcome a number of the songs off Diamond Star Halos into the forthcoming stadium tour with Motley Crue.
Indeed, 2022 is the year of Def Leppard.
Def Leppard Diamond Star Halos Songs:
- Take What You Want
- Fire It Up
- This Guitar
- SOS Emergency
- Liquid Dust
- U Rok Mi
- Goodbye For Good This Time
- All We Need
- Open Your Eyes
- Gimme A Kiss
- Angels (Can’t Help You Now)
- From Here To Eternity