Def Leppard – Def Leppard

Def Leppard - Def Leppard (2015)
Def Leppard – Def Leppard (2015)

New Def Leppard albums will always be stacked up against Hysteria, the last and most successful album of their classic era. Every subsequent release reliably trotted out as “their best since Hysteria“. But it’s been 28 years since that album and Def Leppard’s career has been hit-and-miss ever since. Without the hard-edged chemistry they enjoyed with the late Steve Clark as their guitarist they’ve been unable to satisfactorily turn the clock back to their classic era and any attempt to progress and achieve a crossover success by introducing contemporary influences has had mixed results and a mixed reception. Their new self-titled album finds them employing various approaches taken from throughout their long career and, like that career, it’s diverse and patchy.

Let’s Go and Dangerous kick the album off in an enjoyably classic Lep vein but they’re basically reheats of Pour Some Sugar on Me and Photograph respectively. Neither possessing the fresh spark or originality of the source material. Then the band pay homage to best-forgotten eras of their career too. Man Enough reworks Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust in such an un-sexy way that it brings to mind the horror of Euphoria‘s All Night. And even their career-nadir X is represented by the insipid ballad We Belong and the boy-band pish of Energized. The latter is quite possibly the worst song of their entire career.

The fan pack. Something to read while you pretend side one never happened.
The fan pack. Something to read while you pretend side one never happened.

But anyone loyal enough to stick out the diminishing returns of the album’s first half is rewarded as the album improves in its second half. All Time High and Broke N’ Brokenhearted prove that the band’s dumb-but-fun rock is still not out of the question. But it’s the more serious, moody tracks that are the real winners here. Wings of an Angel is an excellent slice of layered drama. Easily the best song on Def Leppard. And there’s a welcome return to the adventurous feel of the Slang era too with the excellent, moreish Forever Young and the “Lep do Zep” of Battle of my Own.

Sadly, the album’s indian summer isn’t enough to undo the, often embarrassingly bad, first half. With tracks three to seven removed you’d have the makings of a decent Def Leppard album here. But even then, it would still just be solid. There’s nothing here that the band, or other bands, haven’t done before and better. There’s no shame in a classic act relying on past glories but to do so with so little fire and edge is unforgivable. Disappointing.

[Def Leppard – Wings of an Angel]

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66 thoughts on “Def Leppard – Def Leppard”

  1. I was supremely embarrassed for them as I was listening to this record. I did like that Zeppelin-lite final track and I don’t think the first two tracks would be terrible live. Though I’d probably mistake them for “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Photograph.”

    I think it might be time for these lads to retire.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I guess I’m the minority here! Ha! I appreciate your review on it as such but whereas we both agree that they borrow Influences ie Queen I think it works where you don’t! Fair Beans!
    This album like I posted in my review was that I wasn’t expecting much and was surprised that I dig it! The further you get into the album was the most pleasing thing to me whereas I can’t really remember being enthralled with anything on Sparkle Lounge as much! That Def McGraw mash up was another Jovi wannabe sell move that backfired.
    What I’m saying is I like it ….haha

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I preferred their Zep and Beatles attempts to the Queen one anyway. I’m genuinely glad you like it Deke, I wish I was more into it. The weird thing is that I liked the last one! Thought that was their best since Slang. The only tune on that I didn’t like was the Queen rip off. Again! I wish they’d just leave Queen alone haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I’m sure the dust from this will quiet down and than when I post it at Ladanos Top 5 of 2015 lists at the end of the year. It will stir everyone back up! Hahaha…..

        Liked by 1 person

      1. There you go, and I didn’t even mind “Love”.

        Now, I do have something truly of Def Lep’s to review, but I haven’t had the courage to do it yet. Something worse than X. Worse than Euphoria. Worse, worse, worse.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah it didn’t quite fit, even though they said “It’s not a ballad!”

        Ultimately though, I think Def Leppard have but one road left to explore. They have to reunite with Mutt. If that fails then all is truly lost.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You have two good points there. A Clark-sized hole in the armor means a huge part of the sound is gone. But at the same time, I don’t need them to reboot the past. Viv can write rock, we know he could with Dio. Surely he must have come up with some of those riffs.

        Your second point is also good — Mutt has worked with them since. But I’d like to see him come in again, in the same capacity he once did. Write, demo, record, do everything with Mutt, as long as it takes. But I don’t think Mutt or Lep are that interested.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I get what you’re saying but I don’t even really mean about turning the clock back. It’s just that, Steve was part of what made the band so special. Viv isn’t. No harm to the guy. It’s not even a matter of how talented he is. The chemistry just isn’t the same. The combo of Clark and Leppard was special.

        It’s such a shame that Slang didn’t succeed. That was the band’s chance to start again, find their own new chemistry. Cause that was Viv’s first album. They should have developed along those lines. But cause it didn’t sell, Lep have been lost ever since. If that had gone down better (as it should have) I think it’d be a different story now, maybe?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I really, really want the chemistry to be repeatable in some way. History has shown though that you are probably right.

        I sometimes wonder what an alternate reality would be like in which Slang was the biggest album since Hysteria. In that universe, Bon Jovi also continued along a more Keep the Faith vibe.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really appreciate you writing this one up – I’ve paid almost no attention to this band (except for when Mike gave me the Sparkle album) since Pyromania (apart from the later hits on rawk radio). So I have no context. When you say it’s derivative of older work, I’ll take your word for it!

    So now we’ve got a thumbs up from Deke, and a thumbs down from you, and we’re all back to even. I’m waiting for Lebrain to chime in as a tie-breaker!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Last I spoke to him he wasn’t sure about whether he even wanted this or not. I’d like to hear his take though.

      The problem isn’t really that it’s derivative though… it’s that the writing and performances are just so bland. If it was derivative and good that would be fine. But anyone that thinks this is a patch on the old stuff never understood what was so good about the old stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh! A very different review from Deke’s. I’ll admit to being somewhat intrigued after initially not being that bothered, but I’m getting the impression this may not be one for a Leppard newbie to be looking for much from …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeez it’s hard when you really want to like an album but it just doesn’t do it for you. I’ve been avoiding writing about the recent Tame Impala album for just that reason. I’ve noticed some folk do find it easier to let the positive halo from past glories infiltrate their ears for a later release. Nice if you can manage it I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Euphoria‘s “All Night” is one of the worst songs this deaf cat has foisted upon us yet.

    Scott I know of all bands, we seem to see eye to eye quite a bit on this one. As such…no offence to Deke…I can relate to your review. It is hitting all my sore spots.

    Since I’m looking at a $25 Japanese copy, plus a $25 (etc?) Fan Pack, I have decided, for now, to skip Def Leppard. I reserve the right to change my mind although it will probably be more costly to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been a huge fan of this band for years, but I gave up on any new wow factor from them a while ago. Slang is probably their most underrated gem and I hate they didn’t try to play more with that sound. It was modern and it fit their aging status. They keep trying to make hits and that ship sailed a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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