Def Leppard – you know what they do and they won’t disappoint the faithful again on Diamond Star Halos.
Release Date: 27th May 2022
Label: UMC / Mercury
Format: digital / CD (and deluxe) / vinyl (also deluxe and coloured)
Def Leppard. Great at what they do. In an ironic twist, they even did the tribute to themselves one time as Ded Flatbird during one of their Vegas residences. And any band that does a Vegas residency – well, it’s a long way from the steel grind of Sheffield and the City Hall of their hometown.
It’s been a while too, since Mutt Lange was on the teamlist as the sixth Leppard – going on twenty years now since he was polishing those mega hit gems – as they continue to delve into new songs whilst their live show is packed to the brim with songs from the Mutt years – Hysteria and the hits.
Keeping up the seven-year gaps between the last few albums, many may ask if new music from Def Leppard is still relevant. They may ask how many of these songs will get into the setlist alongside the fare that Leppard have traded over recent times. On the new set, we find a prime example of how Leppard wear their roots on their sleeves -Joe Elliott most notably, living the teenage dream with the Down N Outz. It’s openly on show in the opening ten minute Glam Rock spired flurry. A flashback to the days when us impressionable youngsters listened to Marc Bolan singing Get It On and wondering if we’d heard correctly, what on earth a hubcab diamond star halo was.
The descending guitar figure to the opening cut, Take What You Want, is straight from the glam rockers handbook and sounds familiar enough to be familiar without being able to put a finger on exactly what. To the point where it’s driving me a bit mad – suggestions on a postcard please.
The handclap rhythms in Kick seal the Pop Rock deal, making Hard Rock accessible for the older groovers in town – a big arena singalong sha-na-na to complete the package. and Fire It Up has another tinge of sugar-pouring familiarity – an audience participation chorus for maybe not the show opener but certainly a prime contender for second song in. A Bolan / T Rex for 2022 and not dissimilar in the way the song title is drawled to the oncoming Liquid Dust.
Those belters are balanced with a variety of Leppard-isms that see them heading into soft rock Eagles and moody mid-paced growers and the odd Gary Barlowesque big production ballads. The latter culminating in their bid (maybe) for a new Bond era with From Here To Eternity. Alison Krauss even shows up on a couple of tracks and while some may baulk at the thought, if her work with Robert Plant is any measure (albeit in a slightly different field) then why not?Throwing a brief curveball, is that a ukelele at the start of U Rok Mi ? Have we gone all crazee now with a Slade-esque titling? Joe donning the mirrored top hat and all?
After All We Need offers the ’22 take on Hysteria (the song), most boxes have been ticked if you’re played Def Leppard bingo. It’s all there – songs to nod your head at, songs to swing and groove to, and songs to put on a mixtape for someone you love. Polished and lush harmonies, shedloads of whoa-oh, oh yeah’s and stinging twin guitars.
One small beef at the fifteen tracks…a bit of judicious trimming might have got us down to a nine/ten-track (5 each side) LP that kicked in a more uncompromising fashion. I may not be the only one doing the odd skip of the old CD scanner although the vinyl revivalists and enthusiasts won’t necessarily be getting up to move the arm over.
Here’s Take What You Want: