Everyone has a list of “go to” artists. The ones you can always count on to be familiar and improve your day. Def Leppard is one of those bands for me. They may try something new here and there but their sound is always distinctive—there’s no mistaking Joe Elliott’s vocals, Rick Allen’s drums, and the Def Leppard cadence and phrasing.
Elliott never liked being packed into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Instead the band opted to err on the side of melody making them one of the defining sounds of the 80s hard rock scene. I recently saw someone suggest Def Leppard is a “boomer band” at this point but here’s the thing: They know what works for them and what their fans want. Some of the hallmarks of an enduring, go-to band
Diamond Star Halos is Def Leppard’s 12th full-length album. It’s aptly named as the album has a hard-edged yet nostalgic feel. Songs like Liquid Dust carry a lush, psychedelic sound that evokes a T-Rex for the modern age.
The album leads of with its three hardest cuts: Take What You Want, Kick and Fire It Up. Kick was released as the first single. All three hark to the early juggernaut that made them constant chart toppers in the 80s.
Bluegrass darling Allison Krauss makes an appearance on two tracks: This Guitar and Lifeless. Where I live, Krauss is a bit of a big deal and her fans are constantly side-eying her penchant for hobnobbing with rockers (John Waite, Robert Plant, Def Leppard). This Guitar sort of has Allison written all over it. It’s a slow, steel-guitar laden ode to someone being saved by music—more specifically, a guitar. Krauss’ mournful backing harmonies are used to good advantage.
Krauss’ second slot, Lifeless, is more of a rocker but still with a little twang. Her signature vocals are used like a wall of sound in this case. It’s a solid ballad.
One of the standouts on Diamond Star Halos is Unbreakable. It has a poppy rock groove with a hard edged guitar. It’s almost, dare I say it, joyful!
Rounding out the album is From Here to Eternity that brings that joy down a peg. It’s a dark edged disaster epic full of hearts with holes and guns and regret: “My constant companions are heartache and shame.” Still a good tune!
All in all this 15 song, hour long release is distinctly Def Leppard and not likely to disappoint fans.
Def Leppard appeared on Jimmy Kimmel May 25, 2022 performing Take What You Want and Rock of Ages on air. They also streamed on Kimmel’s YouTube channel adding Hysteria and Pour Some Sugar on Me. The set was stripped down as these things tend to be, but it was classic Def Leppard and the band looked like they were having a good time with it. And I still get a little weepy when I see Rick Allen drum, even after all these years.
Def Leppard begins their current tour in June. I first saw Def Leppard live April 6, 1983 on the Pyromania tour. Our 20,000 seat arena was packed to the rafters and they were outstanding. I’ve seen them five more times over the years and enjoyed it each time. You won’t regret going.
Diamond Star Halos gets an A. Would play loud in the car to recommend.
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