Diamond Star Halos

Bludgeon Riffola / Mercury
rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Take What You Want
02. Kick
03. Fire It Up
04. This Guitar
05. SOS Emergency
06. Liquid Dust
07. U Rok Mi
08. Goodbye For Good This Time
09. All We Need
10. Open Your Eyes
11. Gimme A Kiss
12. Angels (Can't Help You Now)
13. Lifeless
14. Unbreakable
15. From Here To Eternity

With such an abundance of certified, timeless anthems in their now vast catalogue, DEF LEPPARD could absolutely be forgiven for resting on their laurels, touring the world on an endless nostalgia trip and never again making a new album. But the one thing that has always made the British crew so widely appealing is that DEF LEPPARD have never stopped behaving like the wide-eyed, priapic teenagers they were when they penned "Hello America" all those years ago. The band's recorded output over the last 20 years has certainly included some dubious moments, but the overall impression has continued to be of a band in love with rock 'n' roll, enormous singalong tunes and the whole arena rock experience. If 2015's self-titled album turned out be a long way from the definitive work its title promised, it still had plenty to commend it, and lots of evidence that DEF LEPPARD are still more than capable of whacking out an irresistible, hard rock showstopper. We may be past the point where they will ever make a certified classic again (and with both "Pyromania" and "Hysteria" on the books, why would they need to?),but DEF LEPPARD are still enthusiasts at heart, and "Diamond Star Halos" is an album with a big, stupid grin on its face.

What hits home hardest here is how relaxed DEF LEPPARD are right now. "Diamond Star Halos" is low on shiny bells and high-tech whistles, but it compensates by being (mainly) full of simple, heartfelt and punchy songs. "Take What You Want", "Kick" and "Fire It Up" provide a perfect opening trilogy, with all the giant hooks, glam-meets-metal riffs and expensive but understated production anyone could possibly need. "This Guitar" and "Angels (Can't Help You Now)" depict the LEPs in languid, country rock mode, aided hugely by two stunning guest vocals from ALISON KRAUSS and some beautiful guitar solos. "Lifeless" and "SOS Emergency" are a little darker and grittier than their counterparts, with both existing in a similar sonic ballpark to the ageless "Animal". Closer "From Here To Eternity" is a wonderfully indulgent ballad: '70s glam flamboyance colliding with some classic LEPPARD vocal harmonies; "Liquid Dust" is a joyously schmaltzy salute to ELTON JOHN and THE BEATLES with elegant waves of stirring strings.

Of course, this wouldn't be a DEF LEPPARD record without a couple of major clangers. "U Rok Mi" is as lyrically feeble and goofy as its title suggests (and yes, they definitely do this stuff on purpose!),  while "Gimme A Kiss" is a hard rocker so slight that its inclusion is genuinely bewildering. For the most part, however, "Diamond Star Halos" is a very good time had by all.

Author: Dom Lawson
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