Diamond Star Halos

Def Leppard

Universal, 2022


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I don’t understand Def Leppard.


For all intents and purposes, Joe Elliott and crew should be enjoying retirement from the music industry, lounging on a sunny beach somewhere. After all, they enjoyed the fruits of success with albums like High ‘N Dry and Pyromania. They suffered tragedies prior to Hysteria and Adrenalize, only to come back as strong as ever. They survived the grunge era and the commercial disappointment of Slang. And while their newer material might not be garnering the same level of airplay, they’re still packing in the fans when they tour.


And then, we get to their latest studio release, Diamond Star Halos. There is absolutely no reason this album should be as strong as it is. But, instead of resting on their laurels, Def Leppard have created one of their strongest albums to date (even with the occasional misstep).


Let’s get this out of the way right now: if you pick this up expecting the latest iteration of Pyromania or Hysteria, not only haven’t you been paying attention to Def Leppard over the past 30-plus years, but you’re gonna be sorely disappointed. Elliott’s vocals are more restrained, the tempos are slightly slower (but not plodding), and it would be difficult to call their current style hard rock. Thing is, if it wasn’t so damned my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 good, it would be worthy of criticism.


Take the barn-burner “Take What You Need” that opens the disc (and served as one of the first singles). If there was any doubt that Def Leppard was still a viable force in the world of music, this track erases it. The twin-guitar attack of Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell, layered over the bass guitar of Rick Savage and drums of Rick Allen, build the foundation for not only Elliott’s lead vocals, but the band’s backing vocals. Simply put, this is rock at its finest.


Yet, even it’s not the strongest track on Diamond Star Halos. I honestly didn’t want to like “U Rok Mi” just based on the silly spelling of the title, but the song simply overpowers the listener. Likewise, “Unbreakable,” “Open Your Eyes” and “Lifeless” - the last being one of two songs featuring bluegrass star Alison Krauss – prove without a doubt that there is not only still gas in Def Leppard’s tank, but they’re burning premium with nitro.


This isn’t to say there aren’t a few missteps therein. While Def Leppard wisely does not try to overrely on ballads, “This Guitar” (the second featuring Krauss) is not the most lyrically well-structured, though the melody is not bad, and “Goodbye For Good This Time” feels like the brakes are being applied to the whole album. Closing the disc with a weak track – namely, “From Here To Eternity” - doesn’t help the overall experience.


Yet there are far more success stories than mistakes. Tracks like “Liquid Dust” and “All We Need” will quickly make the listener forget the weaker moments.


It takes a lot for a well-established band to release music that can be held up to the same esteem as the albums and songs that made them household names. Diamond Star Halos is an album worthy of that attention; if there were justice in the world (and terrestrial radio ever grew a set of balls to play more than the same damned 100 songs), this disc would be getting massive airplay. This is one definitely worth your money and a place in the constant rotation list on the old Victrola.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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