A Review of Def Leppard's self-titled Album
written by Cāngkù Shísān
I got this album for my birthday in December 2015, days after its release here. When I first listened, I didn’t want to love it just because it’s Def Leppard. I wanted to love it because of the quality of the music, and that opinion has been carried over into this review. Their previous studio album, though very entertaining, wasn’t their best. However, this album, Def Leppard's first full studio release in 7 years (a stint only interrupted by the live album Mirror Ball in 2011 which featured 3 new studio tracks) is a milestone in their career. The 10th studio album all told, excluding B-Side collections, compilations, and a cover album in 2006, and it's their second longest album (beaten only by the classic Hysteria in 1987) was greeted initially with skepticism. Could a band gone for so long still rock hard?
The opening track, Let's Go, answers that question right away. Reminiscent of their classic Pour Some Sugar On Me, the opening riff permeates your ears and gets you going right away, Joe Elliot asking 'Do you really really wanna do this now?'. Yes, Joe, yes. After hearing this track I most definitely want to do this now. When the band said they opened with Let's Go as they wanted a more familiar sounding track to start their new album, it left me wondering. This album wasn't going to be an old man album, was it? Seemingly, no. Dangerous is a pelter, and I daresay it grows on you from the moment you first hear it. Classic Lep.
Now then, we are entering uncharted territory. The bass driven, Another One Bites The Dust style track Man Enough is certainly the highlight of this album. Maybe at first one might wonder, but soon the groove has you. You find yourself hooked on this song from the first chord. As Phil Collen himself described, ‘that’s a bit tasty’. Brilliant! Ah, the classic Lep ballad. Track four, as almost always. This does have one switch-up though; for the first time ever the band are sharing lead vocals, with the lyrics representative of the member singing. We Belong is a wonderful piece of musicianship that fans aren't likely to forget.
Here comes Invincible, the first riff written by drummer Rick Allen in a long, long time. And what a wonderful riff that is. Building into this song that is alluringly complex, the wonders of Joe's vocals being unlocked throughout. Not a song that strikes you straight away, but soon it has its hooks in and you're its slave for life. Ooh, here's a bit more experimentation. Sea Of Love combines this unfamiliar groove with your classic Def Leppard sound, creating some sort of cyborg that comes to seduce your ears. Yes, I love this one too. And here it's like taking a trip down memory lane. A trip that stops at about 2002. Energized, the track everyone seems to hate, feels like it should have been released on X, Def Leppard's highly underrated pop experimentation. This song has gone all out with the synthesizers, with spectacular results.
Now we're talking. The Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop) of the modern age. All Time High is simply a wonderful, headbanging, hellraising track of epic proportions. And it has Joe's trademark shrieks on it – long time no see (or hear, in this case). Battle Of My Own is the only track I'm not sure of. Is it a bad track? No, not at all, It's a very strong track, in fact. It just doesn't do it for me like the rest of them. I guess that one's up to you. Still, it hasn’t lost its place on my ipod, it makes the album whole. And now we have a return to more traditional Def Leppard sound. Much like the opening two tracks, Broke 'N' Brokenhearted is a simple Def Leppard rocker. Very reminiscent of the 1999 Euphoria album. And I love the 1999 Euphoria album :)
Forever Young is a track I was initially unsure of, but now I find it to be very strong in its own way. Not the best track they have ever done, but a solid two and a half minutes on here! The next track, Last Dance, is simply beautiful. In my head it's a cross between the classic Two Steps Behind and the wondrous Promises, meeting in the middle in some sort of beautiful semi-acoustic creation made for gods. Oh. My. God. I think my head just fell off. Either that or my open mouth swallowed it whole. Just when I thought it couldn't get better they pull out this. Wings Of An Angel is the perfect bridge between traditional Def Leppard and the expressive nature of this album. Dark, mystical verses build up into one of the strongest Def Leppard choruses of all time. This is the point where I tip my hat to the band and walk slowly away.
And finally, Blind Faith. A track with a very experimental feel. This song wouldn't be out of place on Slang (don't get me wrong, I like Slang, they released it in 1996, when grunge was trying to beat rock and metal. It never really did). This song is very different, finally reaching its crescendo before it turns to go back down to land the album safely. I'll leave this one to you, but personally I think it's super! The two bonus tracks, the cool cardboard case, the magazine, the keyring, and picture cards are definitely worth the extra money, but they aren’t necessary to make this album perfection (I have them, obviously:). I could say that this is the best rock album of 2015, but it would be an understatement. When left on their own, with no rules, with just the five members of the band being themselves, Def Leppard have written the best album of the 21st Century. Excessive? Listen to it, I think not.
Let’s Go/Dangerous/Man Enough/We Belong/Invincible/Sea Of Love/Energized/All Time High/Battle Of My Own/Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted/Forever Young/Last Dance/Wings Of An Angel/Blind Faith/We Belong (Alt. Vocal Take, Fanpack Edition Bonus)/Let’s Go (UK Radio Edit, Fanpack Edition Bonus)
5 out of 5