Def Leppard - 'Def Leppard'

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Def Leppard - 'Def Leppard'

Is 'Def Leppard' the best thing they have done since 'Hysteria'? I've got my opinion, over to you...

Def Leppard are one of the few bands that have an instantly recognizable signature sound that you can't mistake, no matter which era of the band any particular song may originate from. From the ground-breaking, technical excellence of 'Hysteria', the darker, moodier 'Slang' record that they rode out the Grunge storm with and the more contemporary-sounding 'X' album – even on the 'Yeah!' covers album they managed to sound uncannily like the band they were covering whilst also retaining their own identity.

And so 'Def Leppard', recorded without any record label pressure or interference, sees them integrating many different elements and styles from their past into one cohesive and fresh sounding album. The band sounds invigorated, Joe Elliott is singing better than ever, the production is immense, and as for the songs...

Opener 'Let's Go' is an absolute classic 'Hysteria'-era Leppard; big drums, big guitars, big harmonies – it may be a little structurally similar to 'Pour Some Sugar On Me', but who cares? 'Dangerous' that follows is an awesome 'Euphoria'-ish up-tempo ultra-melodic Rocker, while the bass-driven, Funky 'Man Enough' somehow manages to sound like a 'Yeah!' seventies-cover; there are elements of Queen circa 'The Game' here – great fun.

'X' would be the contemporary-sounding reference point for the classy ballad 'We Belong' (that features all band members singing lead vocal lines for the first time), the excellent driving Rocker 'Invincible' and the heavily-programmed 'Energized', while the fun-sounding 'Sea Of Love' and 'Forever Young' continue the no-frills approach from the 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' album. The Hard Rocking, guitar-driven 'All Time High' and 'Broke 'N' Brokenhearted' nod back to the 'High 'N' Dry' and 'Pyromania' days, albeit with a more modern sheen.

Sounding quite unlike anything that DL have recorded before is the wonderful 'Battle Of My Own' that sees the band go all Led Zeppelin on us (Lep Zeppelin?), initially acoustic-led until the power-chords crash in, accompanied by string effects, while the beautiful, serene ballad 'Last Dance' has an almost Folky element to it, a feature that harks back to some of the 'Retroactive' tracks.

As the album draws to its conclusion it takes a turn towards a somewhat moodier direction with the modern Rocker 'Wings Of An Angel' and the introspective and somewhat psychedelic ballad 'Blind Faith' that could have fitted comfortably on 'Slang'.

'Hysteria' is rightly regarded as one of the greatest Rock albums of all time, so is 'Def Leppard' the best thing they have done since that landmark record? I've got my opinion, over to you...

Ant Heeks

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