When writing an album review, one must maintain a professional distance from your subject to ensure the piece is calm, balanced and objective. However, when reviewing Def Leppard’s latest release, Diamond Star Halos, which is out today, I failed miserably because
I F**KING LOVE THIS ALBUM!!!!!!!!!!!
So with that said, I write this as a fan and a longtime lover of all things Lep. Of course, I loved Hysteria; who didn’t? It was hard rock’s answer to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and it still sounds so fresh today. Two songs from that album are in my all-time Top Ten (Armageddon It and Gods of War), and the other Def Leppard entry in that list is the pop-rock perfection of Photograph from Pyromania.
Along with Van Halen (avec Roth), Mötely Crüe, Ratt, Aerosmith et al., they were the sound of the 80s for this reviewer. Yet, in the 90s, I ventured off down the Indie route. I did not entirely leave my first love behind, but as the scene collapsed in on itself, hastened by Nirvana’s Nevermind, I got my kicks elsewhere – or so I thought.
So after seeing the likes of Pavement, Sparklehorse and Radiohead for most of that decade, I was invited to see Def Leppard in London in 2003. It was my first time seeing them. The Darkness supported, and then the main act came on and blew me away. I hadn’t realised, but I’d missed the showmanship, the music, the pyros, the fist-punching beat and my hard rock brothers and sisters around me.
Since then, my respect for Def Leppard, and other bands from that heady era, has grown. So, it is with genuine excitement and some trepidation I played Kick, their first single release off Diamond Star Halos, on the car stereo while transporting my two and five-year-olds to Tesco recently. Rock n roll I know. The opening riff nearly sent me off the road. The production is colossal, and the song writing is confident and instantly catchy. We played it three times in a row, and I think the kids enjoyed it too. Their hard rock education started a long time ago.
So, with this and hearing the next two singles, I contacted Rock News HQ and said I HAVE TO REVIEW THIS ALBUM! And boy, what an honour it has been to listen to the album all week ahead of its release today.
WARNING: DIAMOND STAR HALOS WILL GIVE YOU MULTIPLE GOOSEBUMPS!
For those who are not overly familiar Def Leppard, they are Joe Elliott [vocals], Rick Savage [bass], Rick Allen [drums], Phil Collen [guitar], and Vivian Campbell [guitar]. Unlike some other bands from that era, Def Leppard shows no interest in being a tribute band to their earlier work.
Swearing aside, this is a truly remarkable album, and one wonders what Robert Johnson-like deal at the crossroads they made with their souls. Either that, or the creative hunger is there and even more remarkable that over the last two years, due to lockdown, they recorded it simultaneously in three different countries with Joe in Ireland, Sav in England, and Phil, Vivian, and Rick in the United States.
The album opens with the three most recent singles: Kick, Take What You Want and Fire it Up which are immense in their kick-down-the-door riffage while bringing in a surprising groove to proceedings.
With Track 4, This Guitar brings down the tempo from the hard-rocking openers to something more touching and heartfelt. It’s the first of two tracks where we hear Alsion Krauss (the other is Lifeless). Who would’ve thought it? Alison Krauss on a Def Leppard album! The result is beautiful with Alsion and Joe’s vocals wed in harmony. And given the song is about the guitar, wait for the solo. I’ve just listened to it once more, and I got them goosebumps again!
Def Leppard seemed to have pulled off the impossible by producing an album that simultaneously embraces their glorious past while not being imprisoned by it. Yes, they are nods to earlier songs with Fire It Up (Pour Some Sugar On Me) and All We Need (Love & Affection) but there are songs on here where you feel the band are pushing into new and exciting writing territory.
Songs like, Take What You Want, This Guitar and the funky U Rock Mi*, Goodbye For Good This Time (with a Spanish guitar solo), and Open Your Eyes see a band moving forwards.
*That pre-solo and solo in U Rock Mi is sublime and sounds like the work of Vivian Campbell with his deciduously disjointed fayre.
Not only do I love this album, but it also makes me feel like the sun is shining when it’s not. Diamond Star Halos is such a strong album they will be giving the boys in Mötley Crüe a run for their money during their stadium tour this summer in the US. I just wish we could be there to see it ourselves (ahem, anyone in the industry feeling generous?)
To Def Leppard, I simply say WTF! How did you do it? How did you create such a strong album at this stage of your career? Let’s just hope you get to keep your souls when you shuffle off this metallic mortal coil. \m/
Def Leppard Diamond Star Halos album review.
2022 sees Def Leppard celebrate their 45th anniversary with The Stadium Tour, their biggest North American tour ever. The run will start June through September 2022 and will see the band play 31 stadium shows across the US with Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett.
- Take What You Want
- Fire It Up
- This Guitar [feat. Alison Krauss]
- 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)
- Lifeless [feat. Alison Krauss]
- From Here To Eternity
6/16 Atlanta, GA Truist Park
6/18 Miami Gardens, FL Hard Rock Stadium
6/19 Orlando, FL Camping World Stadium
6/22 Washington, D.C. Nationals Park
6/24 Flushing, NY Citi Field
6/25 Philadelphia, PA Citizens Bank Park
6/28 Charlotte, NC Bank of America Stadium
6/30 Nashville, TN Nissan Stadium
7/2 Jacksonville, FL TIAA Bank Field
7/5 St. Louis, MO Busch Stadium
7/8 Chicago, IL Wrigley Field
7/10 Detroit, MI Comerica Park
7/12 Hershey, PA Hershey park Stadium
7/14 Cleveland, OH FirstEnergy Stadium
7/15 Cincinnati, OH Great American Ball Park
7/17 Milwaukee, WI American Family Field
7/19 Kansas City, MO Kauffman Stadium
7/21 Denver, CO Coors Field
8/5 Boston, MA Fenway Park
8/6 Boston, MA Fenway Park
8/8 Toronto, ON Roger’s Centre
8/10 Orchard Park, NY Highmark Stadium
8/12 Pittsburgh, PA PNC Park
8/14 Minneapolis, MN U.S. Bank Stadium
8/16 Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Stadium
8/19 Houston, TX Minute Maid Park
8/21 San Antonio, TX Alamodome
8/22 Arlington, TX Global Life Field
8/25 Glendale, AZ State Farm Stadium
8/27 Inglewood, CA SoFi Stadium
8/28 San Diego, CA Petco Park
8/31 Seattle, WA T-Mobile Park
9/2 Vancouver, BC BC Place
9/4 Edmonton, AB Commonwealth Stadium
9/7 San Francisco, CA Oracle Park
9/9 Las Vegas, NV Allegiant Stadium
You can check out even more from Def Leppard here.