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DEF LEPPARD - X   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Saturday, 16 October 2004

Now that’s 80’s metal is officially retro and cool again – see the overload of Motorhead shirts, and the adoration of bands like Iron Maiden and Van Halen by Sum 41 and A amongst others – the not-at-all credible black sheep of that pack - Def Leppard - return with their tenth album Its called ‘X’ (that’s the Roman numeral for 10, fact fiends)

Ever since their commercial peak of 1987’s “Hysteria” ( with 14 million sales and counting ), Def Leppard seem to have been on a steady decline: Through any band that sell 2 million albums with little or no publicity, no radio or MTV support, would be most
record labels dream. To put it in perspective, that’s roughly as many albums as the Stereophonics sold of their last effort, and that band are hyped to fuck.

But what of the music? Def Leppard made their name, and a career, out of slick, polished, commercial stadium rock. 1996’s “Slang” threw a lot of people for six by being a reinvention into something less poppy, less blatently commercial- a path they’ve followed since, and had to try to reclaim back ground they lost in a world that’s moved on when it seems they haven’t.

“X” sadly is more of the same; not so much Whilst unmistakably Def Leppard – those vocal harmonies are a huge giveaway - “X” is a disappointment to anyone expecting a return to form of the late 80’s. Opener and first single “Now” is some electric beats with acoustic guitar and guitar feedback – and a far cry from tracks like “Lets Get Rocked”. Its too light for nu-metal, too heavy for radio 2 – its not gonna do much business. And its just about the weakest track on the album.

Now settled down into a less rockist, more AOR midpaced territory, with every track like a middle of the road ballad. The second track “Unbelievable” is on the other hand, a far better choice. Unfortunately, its written by Max Martin – the man who brough us Britney Spears. That’s a sad sign of the times when a band like Def Leppard start using the same songwriters as Westlife and Britney Spears, especially when they can play their own instruments and even sing live.But if Bon Jovi can do it (“Its my life”) and steal the leppards thunder...why the hell not?

  I gotta admit it: I loved Def Leppard. I played the live “in your face” video til the tape quality visibly degraded. “Hysteria” changed my life, and still stands as a pinnacle for which any band wishign to achieve mainstream success should aspire to: a perfect match of pop hooks and rock guitars. But since then times have changed and that’s leaves Def Leppard as a
band slightly out of time; wearing their influences on the sleeve. Still, for all its faults, its a damn sight better than you should be able to expect from a bunch of 80’s hair metallers.

Oddest thing is, so much for being perceived as mainstream – they are. Mainstream rock music is Slipknot, Linkin Park, and Creed nowadays. in this world of Limp bizkits and Quorn clones this is the true alternative. Ain’t Irony a wonderful thing?

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