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Def Leppard - Diamond Star Halos (Album Review)

Tuesday, 31 May 2022 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Anton Corbijn

Def Leppard’s eagerly-anticipated follow up to 2015’s excellent self-titled record is a curiously uneven grab bag that boasts as many anthemic heavy hitters as it does close-but-no-cigar air punches. Granted, we shouldn’t expect another game changer in the vein of ‘Pyromania’ or ‘Hysteria’ at this late stage, but with a stronger vision and better quality control, ‘Diamond Star Halos’ could have been as potent as its predecessor.

Sounding predominantly like a mix of post-millennium efforts ‘X’ and ‘Songs From The Sparkle Lounge’ with nods to earlier work that, unsurprisingly, inform this record’s finest tracks, at its best their 12th studio album isn’t lacking for ideas, energy or chemistry.

Take What You Want blasts out the gates in old school fashion, unleashing bludgeoning riffola, massive ‘woah-oh’ cries, an instantly classic chorus and searing twin guitar breaks. 

Fire It Up, meanwhile, delivers stadium-sized fare, U Rok Mi thrusts out its pumped-up chest as twinkling folkiness swells into a vintage monster holler and Kick, which reminds us of the band’s ‘70s influences, is a glam-tastic stomper.

Elsewhere, the exquisitely atmospheric Here To Eternity is a film noir ballad built around bluesy licks and Liquid Dust’s alt-rock leanings recall the band’s underrated, experimental ‘Slang’. This Guitar and Lifeless, both of which feature superlative backing vocals from Alison Krauss, are country-tinged numbers that, courtesy of some melodious pop lines, effortlessly enchant.

Much like their previous album, ‘Diamond Star Halos’ finds Def Leppard unconcerned with chasing trends or overthinking the results of their creative labours. But where that approach worked so well last time, this album fails to hit the same consistent heights due to a lack of objectivity and strength in depth.  

At 15 tracks and over 60 minutes long it’s undoubtedly bloated and in order to render them more unique and memorable, some tracks desperately needed refining. Weak chorus aside, SOS Emergency’s sentiments should have been expressed through darker, more gripping music, All We Need is MOR Leppard-by-numbers and Unbreakable sounds like three different songs crowbarred into a glorified B-side.

Def Leppard’s most iconic albums blended smash hit singles with heart stopping, often dramatic and artistically indulgent, high-calibre deep cuts. Although it contains enough of the former, this filler-heavy record badly lacks the latter and, also, an epic centrepiece such as Die Hard The Hunter, Gods Of War, Paper Sun or White Lightning.

That said, although judicious editing was required, culling any of the album’s superb ballads would have been tricky. Angels (Can’t Help You Now) and Goodbye For Good This Time are far removed from ‘80s lighter-waving favourite Love Bites, but they’re textured modern efforts that, thanks to emotionally engaging, heart-on-sleeve hooks, still pack a trademark punch. 

There’s a fine line between success and failure. When a band venture down an eclectic path and pull it off, as Def Leppard did on their previous offering, the results scream artistic triumph. If such wanderings don’t always hit the mark, the outcome is perceived to be unfocussed, patchy and bereft of stylistic clarity. There’s definitely a cohesive and impressive 10 track record buried within ‘Diamond Star Halos’, but seeing as the band eschewed the kind of economy that made ‘Pyromania’ almost flawless, this is one instance where making your own playlist won’t be considered sacrilegious.

Def Leppard Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu June 16 2022 - ATLANTA Georgia - SunTrust Park (USA)
Sat June 18 2022 - MIAMI Florida - Hard Rock Stadium (USA)
Sun June 19 2022 - ORLANDO Florida - Camping World Stadium (USA)
Wed June 22 2022 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - Nationals Park (USA)
Fri June 24 2022 - NEW YORK CITY New York - Citi Field (USA)
Sat June 25 2022 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Citizens Bank Park (USA)
Tue June 28 2022 - CHARLOTTE NC - Bank Of America Stadium (USA)
Sat July 02 2022 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Nissan Stadium (USA)
Tue July 05 2022 - ST LOUIS Missouri - Busch Stadium (USA)
Fri July 08 2022 - CHICAGO Illinois - Wrigley Field (USA)
Sun July 10 2022 - DETROIT Michigan - Comerica Park (USA)
Tue July 12 2022 - HERSHEY Pennsylvania - Hersheypark Stadium (USA)
Thu July 14 2022 - CLEVELAND Ohio - First Energy Stadium (USA)
Fri July 15 2022 - CINCINNATI Ohio - Great American Ballpark (USA)
Sun July 17 2022 - MILWAUKEE Wisconsin - Miller Park (USA)
Tue July 19 2022 - KANSAS CITY Missouri - Kauffman Stadium (USA)
Thu July 21 2022 - DENVER Colorado - Coors Field (USA)
Fri August 05 2022 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Fenway Park (USA)
Sat August 06 2022 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Fenway Park (USA)
Wed August 10 2022 - BUFFALO New York - New Era Field (USA)
Sun August 14 2022 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - US Bank Stadium (USA)
Fri August 19 2022 - HOUSTON Texas - Minute Made Park (USA)
Sun August 21 2022 - SAN ANTONIO Texas - Alamodome (USA)
Mon August 22 2022 - ARLINGTON Texas - Globe Life Park in Arlington (USA)
Sat August 27 2022 - LOS ANGELES California - SoFi Stadium (USA)
Sun August 28 2022 - SAN DIEGO California - Petco Park (USA)
Wed August 31 2022 - SEATTLE Washington - T Mobile Park (USA)
Wed September 07 2022 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Oracle Park (USA)

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