Def Leppard’s new album signifies multiple nods to the band’s past
The title of this post might suggest that this post is an album review. If that is what you came here looking for, you might be disappointed. This post, looks at aspects outside the realm of the songs on their new album in light of the band’s past.
The ushering of hard rock or heavy metal into the mainstream is something that Sheffield rockers Def Leppard deserve a signficant amount of credit for. Their sonic template was one of infectious melodic hooks, big electric guitar riffs, and airy vocal harmonies. This template has often been referred to as “pop metal” by many critics. It propelled the band to dizzying heights with albums such as “Pyromania“, “Hysteria“, and “Adrenalize“. The songs from those albums have stood the test of time and have allowed the band to earn a fortune in the process.
Seven years since the release of their last and rather lackluster album “Songs from the sparkle lounge“, Def Leppard returned with a new eponymous album on October 30, 2015. There are two noteworthy aspects of this album. First, when the band embarked on a journey of recording new songs, they did not do so with the intention of creating a new album. In an interview on VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” lead singer Joe Elliot said the band was skeptical about the desire for music consumers to buy albums given the trend of “un-bundling” via individual track digital downloads – an idea that was set in motion back in 2004 by the iTunes music store. What started out as an EP quickly evolved into an album. The album name “Def Leppard” is apt given that the songs in the album revisit different stages in Def Leppard’s musical evolution. In fact, in their review of the new Def Leppard album, online magazine the Prog report explicitly ties key songs on the album to different albums in the band’s discography. The most obvious nod to their past is on their lead single “Let’s go“. The electrifying guitar riff in the song’s intro is very reminiscent of that one of their signature hit singles “Pour some sugar on me“. The “call and response” pattern of the song’s chorus is also a lot like that of “Pour some sugar on me“.
While most Def Leppard fans will be happy to see the band revisit multiple chapters of their sonic past via new material, some might miss two key elements of the band’s past that are intrinsic aspects of this new album.
One of the defining and most inspiring aspects of the Def Leppard saga is their ability to bounce back from life-changing tragedies and personal challenges. At the age of 21, soon after the monster success of their “Pyromania” album (which has now sold over 10 million copies), drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident. His future with the band, at the time, was uncertain but yet he returned with the help of engineers that designed a special drum kit for him that allowed him to use his leg (connected to a pedal) to play the snare drum while his right arm still functioned well for the some of the drum rhythms. His tragedy should have undermined the confidence of the band. Instead, it led to writing and recording sessions that culminated in “Hysteria” – the album that marked the band’s commercial zenith and has remained a key milestone in the history of pop/rock music. The band’s guitarist Steve Clark died due to an alcohol overdose in 1991 while the band was recording “Adrenalize” their follow-up to the groundbreaking “Hysteria” album. Once again, the band persevered and continued to churn out hits. To say the band’s tenacity is exemplary would be quite the understatement. It looks like that tenacity has revealed itself yet again in the wake of personal challenges while recording their new self-titled album. Guitarist Vivian Campbell has been battling with Hodgkins’ Lymphoma for a few years. Instead of becoming a victim of his illness, he jumped right back into the studio once he was done with chemotherapy to finish the album. This aspect of Def Leppard is not something of the past. It continues to be a key theme in the journey of the band – and we cannot help but admire them even more for it.
The second key element of their nod to the past is via their music video for their new single “Let’s go”. While the 80s are often referred to as MTV’s heyday and the zenith of the music video era, it appears that Def Leppard’s most memorable video only emerged in the 90s. It was for their hit single “Let’s get rocked“. One view of the new music video “Let’s go” will bring back memories of the video for “Let’s get rocked”. “Let’s go” features the band playing in what feels like an animated backdrop. We might be reading way too much into this but we cannot help but see it as yet another nod to their past.
To have new material by Def Leppard in 2015 is great. While as an album, it may not hold up to career-defining albums such as “Pyromania” or “Hysteria”, it definitely has its promising moments – especially on songs such as “Let’s go“, “Dangerous“, and “Blind faith“. We are just happy that they are celebrating their history without rehashing the past while triumphing over challenges and obstacles that have a familiar feel to those of their past. Here is a full-length video of their new single “Let’s go“:
For the sake of nostalgia, here is also a full-length video of their classic hit “Let’s get rocked“:
Are we crazy for suggesting a connection between the two videos? Feel free to share your comments below!
We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Def Leppard is a regular staple on our radio station. We even play radio-worthy from their post-Hysteria years. Noteworthy examples include songs such as “Long Long Way to go” and “It’s All About Believin’“. Currently, their new single “Let’s go” is getting 5 plays a day on our radio station.
Give us a spin when you get a chance.
We just might become your alternative of choice!