Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos (Album Review)

The enduring Def Leppard is one of the purveyors of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which the journalist Geoff Barton coined in 1979 to refer to the then emerging batch of Metal bands during the popularity of Post-Punk New Wave in that era. This included Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Saxon, and Diamond Head.

Founded in 1978, in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, Def Leppard rose to prominence by the first part of the ensuing decade, courtesy of its chart-topping albums–in particular, 1983’s Pyromania and 1987’s Hysteria. Overall the band, which consists currently of Joe Elliott (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, piano), Rick Savage (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), Rick Allen (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Phil Collen (guitar, backing vocals), and Vivian Campbell (guitar, backing vocals), has released 12 studio albums–from 1980’s On Through the Night to the newly unleashed Diamond Star Halos.

Released on May 27, 2022, via Bludgeon Riffola / Mercury Records, Diamond Star Halos is a return to Def Leppard’s ‘Glam glory days and past triumphs.’ Their studio album in nearly seven years, it is fourteen new songs that opens with the unassuming “Take What You Want,” which starts sweetly and then builds up into a proper stomper. And then the lead single “Kick” kicks in next with its crunchy power chords and catchy choruses. Afterwards, the single “Fire It Up” takes you back to forty years ago, when Glam Metal reigned supreme.

Def Leppard continues the throwback journey with “This Guitar,” down a slow, bluesy road, featuring guest vocals from Alison Krauss. The ensuing “SOS Emergency” then returns again the mood and ambience to upbeat and fun Glam days, reminiscent of the likes of Keel’s “Just Another Girl,” Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” and Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

With the midtempo “Liquid Dust,” the air becomes a bit serious and somber; the guitar works, as melodic and anthemic. And then there is “U Rok Mi” – a playful trek to the countryside, courtesy of its cyclical guitar plucks and groovy bass lines. Definitely a highlight, “Goodbye for Good This Time” is the album’s customary Power ballad, with brilliant piano parts by Mike Garson, who was David Bowie’s longest-serving backing musician. “All We Need” simply picks up on the previous track’s romantic, starry-eyed sensibilities.

Rockin’ time, with the punchy “Open Your Eyes” and “Gimme a Kiss,” only to make the listener’s heart melt again with the other ballad, “Angels (Can’t Help You Now).” Light and soulful, “Lifeless” and “Unbreakable” then play subtly and relaxingly. Finally, Elliott, Savage, Allen, and Collen wrap up their new effort with the dark and ominous “From Here to Eternity.”

Since the beginning of Metal in the late ’60s, perhaps thousands and thousands of bands operating within the genre’s steely sphere have already come and gone. Only a few were able to survive and persist amidst the various stylistic evolutions. Def Leppard is definitely one of them. Diamond Star Halos is the band’s latest testament to its ability to sustain and continue its legacy and place in the pantheon of significant Metal bands. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Diamond Star Halos 4 out of 5 stars.

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