“I believe what this album has done to our legacy is very similar to what Rumours did for Fleetwood Mac, or what Hotel California did for the Eagles,” lead singer Joe Elliott has predicted of Diamond Star Halos. Recognise the title of Def Leppard’s first new album since 2015’s self-titled set? That’ll be because it’s a nod to lyrics from T.Rex’s Bang a Gong (Get it On).
Lead single Kick is a mid-tempo, ‘70s glam-laced, instant classic resplendent with percussive hand claps plus that catchy sing-along chorus: “I don’t wanna kick, kick/ Kick your habit/ ‘Cause you never quit, quit/ I gotta have it.” Alison Krauss – award-winning bluegrass singer, Robert Plant collaborator and self-confessed Def Leppard tragic – features on two album tracks, one of which – the Phil Collen-penned This Guitar (“saved my life”), which utilises pedal steel and hopeful strings, could be straight from Jimmy Webb’s songbook.
Multiple songwriters within the band ensure plenty of stylistic variation, and Elliott wrote Angels (Can’t Help You Now) – a rock opera, of sorts – on piano. Powerful standout track Open Your Eyes incorporates impassioned group harmonies, focus-pulling bass and a killer extended guitar solo that continues wailing in the rearview mirror through the closing fade-out.
With no expected delivery date in sight, the Leps took their sweet time creating album number 12, and the pay-off is huge. After 45 years as a band, Def Leppard branch out to incorporate more orchestral instrumentation throughout Diamond Star Halos. But, fear not, there’s still “woah-woah!” chant-along ops aplenty. Rock on!
Diamond Star Halos by Def Leppard is out May 27, including on JB-exclusive red and yellow vinyl (pictured above), via UMC.