ALBUM REVIEW: Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos

It’s been almost a year since the mighty DEF LEPPARD released their Volume Three boxset which contained studio albums from the 2000’s along with some unreleased content. This consisted of some covers from their influences and some recordings of these performed live too. On the back of this the band drawn from their inspirations and have been hard at work creating their twelfth Studio album titled Diamond Star Halos which is out now.

Take What You Want is a solid hard rock track, akin to some of the bands earlier offerings. It makes you want to bang your head and sing along, it’s infectious and will stick in your head for ages. Just what you need from an album opener.

Kick is one of the single releases from the album and you can totally understand why. It’s anthemic and is an instant classic that fits in amongst the best of the band’s repertoire.

Fire It Up certainly has a raw rock vibe to it, similar in pace to the classic Joan Jett track I Love Rock N Roll but has plenty of dual guitar sections which Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell thrive on, the chemistry these two have playing alongside each other is incredibly solid. There are vocal harmonies not too far away from how the band utilise their respective ranges on classic hits such as Armageddon It and Photograph.

This Guitar is one of my favourites on this release. This track consists of a duet between Joe Elliot and guest Alison Krauss and this totally works, it makes you wonder why it took until now for it to happen. Through a use of lyrical similes, it personifies the instrument we all hold dear as fans of rock music. It just resonates and reminds us that whatever the journey we take in life and the emotions that come with it such as heartbreak, grief, remorse, and reflection that music is always there for us and that can never be taken away from us.

SOS Emergency could have quite easily come off the Hysteria or Pyromania albums. It utilises all of the signature DEF LEPPARD sounds and styles. Make sure you give this one a listen.

Liquid Dust showcases a wide variety of styles across the piece. There are symphonic string sections, Eastern influenced drum patterns amidst some might power chords. Lyrically there are a lot of rhyming couplets, so the song flows really well, and helps you feel relaxed: “Phase away, laze away, dreaming of that feeling”

U Rok Mi could quite easily have been taken from Songs From The Sparkle Lounge it has that gradual build with a good punchy chorus that would go down well in a live setting.

Goodbye For Good This Time is a piano led ballad (provided courtesy of Mike Garson who used to be David Bowie’s pianist) with touches of string sections and flamenco styled guitar work. It is incredibly poignant within its lyrics too: “This is a song of survival but the tune is starting to fade”

All We Need has some great underlying basslines courtesy of Rick Savage that continues to flow in unison with the percussion of Rick Allen as the pitch shifts into the chorus. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to live life to the fullest “you gotta dance like there’s no one watchin’ so come on kick off your shoes.”

Open Your Eyes has a very heavy bass led introduction which would not be out of place on an AUDIOSLAVE or even a grunge-based band. You expect this to continue throughout but DEF LEPPARD totally change the pace after this early assault. There is the atypical vocal harmonising which has worked throughout the bands career to date and works just as well here too.

Gimme A Kiss has a bit of an EAGLES vibe about it. Lots of vocal harmonising throughout crossing across multiple genres and drawing inspiration from a variety of their collective influences.

Angels (Can’t Help You Now) is another ballad that showcases Joe’s song writing skills and the ability to turn emotions into a powerful message that life is not forever, and that you should take every opportunity that life throws your way.

Lifeless once again features the guest vocals of Alison and gives the band another dynamic by allowing Joe to bounce vocal exchanges between them and some prominent blues inspired guitar solos.  

Unbreakable borrows snippets from the acts that inspired the group, you can instantly recognise the nods to some classic tracks from yesteryear. This is a perfect DEF LEPPARD track.

From Here To Eternity sucks you into a vortex with its weeping guitars and haunting vocal introduction. As an album closer it ingrains itself and remains in your memory long after the song comes to a close. Whilst it is of epic proportions its still very humble with its message. Clearly DEF LEPPARD have made the most of the pandemic and have created an album at their own pace and reaped the rewards of flexibility and being unaccountable to deadlines. There’s touches of their legacy included here but it’s very much an album that paves the way for the future of the band which stands alongside their best.

Rating: 10/10

Words: Martin White

Diamond Star Halos is out now.

Find DEF LEPPARD on Facebook.

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