Def Leppard Diamond Star Halos album cover

Album Review: Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos

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.

Grade: A-

Def Leppard Diamond Star Halos Songs:

  1. Take What You Want
  2. Kick
  3. Fire It Up
  4. This Guitar
  5. SOS Emergency
  6. Liquid Dust
  7. U Rok Mi
  8. Goodbye For Good This Time
  9. All We Need
  10. Open Your Eyes
  11. Gimme A Kiss
  12. Angels (Can’t Help You Now)
  13. Lifeless
  14. Unbreakable
  15. From Here To Eternity

9 thoughts on “Album Review: Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos

  1. Great writeup. I’m on the fence about getting this on vinyl but your review may be the clincher plus price of course.
    I’m not big on them doing the crossover into country as to me its like at this point why? Thats why u got Robert Plant now. lol Some of those opening riffs are catchy as heck.

    1. I questioned that as well. both sings settled in for me thiugh and I give them credit for trying simething new and thinking outside the box, a reason for the high grade. thanks for reading pal. so far I’m in the minority! lol

  2. The jury is still out for me on this one…Glad you are digging it though. Not sure I will end up with a grade like that on it. Most of the copies I ordered will be here tomorrow and then I will start deep diving.

    1. do the deep dive. more than half the album required multiple listens. I even changed my opinion on a couple and rewrote what I had down.

  3. First of all, I hate Alison Krauss (I’ve never heard of her before the album was released, but I hate that she was on the album). “This Guitar” is the worst song on the album, in my opinion. The album is growing on me though, and I’ve only listened to it twice so far. I was on the fence about “Fire It Up,” but I dig it now! “Gimme a Kiss” is a track I liked immediately. “SOS Emergency” is a track I’m starting to like more and more. Great review and I’m glad you dig the new album!

  4. Good day to you.I would like to say that I dont see this album as career defining.I love Lepp,but to me theres only one song that really has it all,and that’s ,Take what you want.The only song that really has a edge, emotion to it.As far as Rock album of the year?…I believe Scorpions have nailed that down.Its all about sentiment,feeling.Duran Durans album would have to be up there as well.Ear candy,extremely well written with all kinds of emotion.I wish Def Leppard got back to reckless abandonment. LET IT ROCK,LET IT ROLL,JUST LET IT GO.Way to soft and safe for me.Honestly.

    1. thanks for reading and commenting! They certainly tried some new things, didn’t they? thanks for the tip on the Scorps. I’m so behind! lol

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