An interesting concept but does it actually SOUND like Def Leppard?
Well, yes, yes it does but with a few interesting twists on the norm.
Opening with the two tracks pre-released on youtube, 'Let's Go' and 'Dangerous' we instantly have that classic Lepp sound. Let's Go has a "Pour Some Sugar On Me" riff and is typically pop rock with the now traditional layered harmony vocals. The chorus is a bit annoying at first but does grow on you and there's a nice Brian May influenced solo.
'Dangerous' is an up tempo melodic rocker with a "Pyromania" era sound and a slightly punky riff to it. It also has a sweet, if too short, solo.
'Man Enough' is where the band changes direction. Opening with a funky bass line it struts along nicely and has a bluesy guitar riff. The song is very much Queen in its composition with "Another one bites the Dust" being the obvious comparison, hand claps and finger clicks included. A great song.
'We Belong' is a classic Def Leppard ballad that few do better. It features all members of the band sharing lead vocal duties and as Joe said, "The lines everyone sings are poignant to parts of their lives" A smooth love song featuring a nice clean solo which should get decent radio rotation.
'Invincible' is a typically British sounding mid tempo rock song. It has a great bass line to it complimented nicely by the drums, which on this album, seem to have a more traditional sound. The chorus has Joe sounding a bit like David Bowie in his early years.
The jazzy, up-tempo 'Sea of Love' is next. A lower range vocal suits the song and Joe perfectly on this. The song, apparently was due to be on Phil's Delta Deep album and you can see why by the bluesy feel and solo which has a bit of a Skynryd riff in it.
'Energised' will probably be seen as the weakest track on the album as its a bit techno sounding. It does have a catchy sing-a-long chorus to it so its not all bad.
Gears get crunched for 'All Time High', another up-tempo hard rocking tune with more of the usual stacked vocal harmonies. This song could almost be described as glam rock and is very enjoyable.
As quickly as the Lepps pushed up through the gears they slow back down again with the heavily Led Zeppelin influenced 'Battle of my Own'. An acoustic blues song featuring huskier vocals from Joe again and a killer electric solo ending.
'Broke 'N' Brokenhearted' is a catchy, guitar driven song with another punchy riff which has an almost punk vibe to it. One bound to get the foot tapping.
'Forever Young' starts with a disjointed guitar sound and is fast-paced with a good dual guitar sound to it. Def Leppard at full on rock speed is always a joy and this is no exception.
A second acoustic ballad is up next in the form of 'Last Dance' A classic Def Leppard love song in the same vein as "2 Steps" etc. Harmony vocals are to the fore on this one. Bound to get a slot in the live show.
'Wings of an Angel' may sound like it's another ballad but it is far from it! With huge riffs and great solo's in it this is a flat out rocker which should keep most fans happy although there is a strange vocal between the verse and chorus that doesn't quite feel right, but that's a minor gripe.
The final song on the album is The Beatles inspired 'Blind Faith'. Described by Viv as a psychodelic rock song its similar in style to 'Lucy' or 'Strawberry Fields' it has a nice clean guitar solo between verses and finishes with a full on hard rock riff. A completely different sound for the band and a song that should definitely grow on people.
So, Def Leppard 2015?
Released from record company demands and constrictions the boys have produced an album that is as impressive as it's diverse and it should appeal to a broad spectrum. Yes, the influences are obvious but you're supposed to listen to 'Man Enough' and go: "Hey! that sounds like Queen."
I may be only one set of ears but if you want old skool Lepps it's all there. If you are interested in hearing them venture into different musical genres then that's there too. This may be the freest album they have ever written and well worth the effort of a listen......Welcome to the Show!!
Review by Andy Gillen
Def Leppard appear at Belfast's SSE Arena on December 7th, with Whitesnake and Black Star Riders