Def Leppard
Pyromania


4.5
superb

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
January 6th, 2009 | 144 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Equally filled with tight musicianship, infectious melodies & anthemic choruses, Def Leppard and producer “Mutt” Lange reset the boundaries of how accessible metal can be.

While being interviewed for the ‘Live From Abbey Road’ television show in 2007, Def Leppard’s lead vocalist Joe Elliott stated something rather telling. Paraphrased, he suggested that if his band had begun their existence in the current musical climate, they may never have released a third album! While both ‘On Through The Night’ and ‘High n Dry’ were solid LPs which hinted of more quality to come, they didn’t exactly set the record books alight in terms of sales and pleasing their label. After listening to ‘Pyromania’, thank goodness that Def Leppard was a product of the late 70’s and not the current decade we live in.

Things used to be different… Bands had a lot more time to settle into the industry and with those extra years would come the opportunity to not only find their true sound naturally, but also get their musical collaborators right. Def Leppard had already previously replaced their drummer and leading up to ‘Pyromania’, Pete Willis was also given his marching orders and replaced by Phil Collen. However, it was their teaming with former AC/DC producer “Mutt” Lange on ‘High n Dry’ which would eventually be seen as the band’s most important move.

Together again with Lange on ‘Pyromania’, Def Leppard practically perfects the sound of accessible metal. Label it whatever you want to; stadium rock, hair metal, hard rock or anything else you can come up with, this Sheffield quintet (and their pioneering producer) have basically taken heavy metal not too dissimilar to the likes of Iron Maiden & Judas Priest, and shined it up so successfully that the mainstream populous just could not resist it. Yet, they have been able to do so in a manner which still remains rather heavy and therefore continued to please the loyal fanbase they had previously built up.

Similarly to ‘High n Dry’ opener ‘Let It Go’, ‘Rock Rock (Till You Drop)’ contains the “simple but effective” vibe which Lange has obviously brought over from AC/DC. Lead vocalist Joe Elliott raspily yells a’la Brian Johnson, while the backing vocals during the chorus are an interesting mix of menacing and melodic. Later, the same treatment is just as superbly given to the old-fashioned metal cut that is ‘Stagefright’. While being nowhere near the best that ‘Pyromania’ has to offer, the accessibility of both of these tracks sum up the album in a sense.

So what is the album highlight of Pyromania? Well, choosing between ‘Photograph’ and ‘Rock Of Ages’ is like asking a parent which is their favorite child. Acting as the LPs lead single, ‘Photograph’ is actually a little difficult to pin down, but its brilliantly involving build-up includes a super effective pre-chorus and especially immediate chorus. The lyrics (written about Marilyn Monroe) are also relatable in covering the idolizing of a star of the screen. Conversely, second single ‘Rock Of Ages’ includes what may just be one of the most memorable and anthemic opening verses of all time! Also containing a terrific solo, the tremendous glam stomp of this cut was a forerunner to the band’s trademark song; ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’.

Where ‘Pyromania’ betters its predecessor is in its depth. There is barely a filler track amongst the ten cuts and the third and fourth singles are both very strong. ’Too Late For Love’ is the token album ballad and impresses through its atmospheric guitars, even if it is not quite up to the standard of prior release ‘Bringin On The Heartbreak’. Later, ‘Foolin’ begins acoustically and at an almost identical tempo, before building up into a song which more closely resembles the structure and pace of ‘Photograph’. Even the so-called weaker tracks on ‘Pyromania’ are good, with ‘Comin Under Fire’ being under-rated due to its infectious chorus, and ‘Action! Not Words’ harshly dealt with due to it’s positioning as the penultimate track of the LP.

The most divisive duo on ‘Pyromania’ however, is more likely to be the five minute plus tracks which end either side… Both of which hark back to the band’s more ambitious Led Zeppelin influenced days. The moody ‘Die Hard The Hunter’, while not as involving as it should be, arguably contains the album’s best lyrics as the problems facing returning soldiers re-acclimatizing into society is dealt with. Meanwhile, closer ‘Billys Got A Gun’ adds some synths in order to add extra atmosphere to proceedings. The slick production even allows this cut to include an entire verse led by the backing vocals of the band (credited to The Leppardettes, but rumored to simply be the musicians themselves).

Due to the subsequent commercial success of ‘Hysteria’, it is often forgotten how influential a 45 minute set ‘Pyromania’ was… And to a certain extent, still is! If anything, this 1983 release has aged even better than ‘Hysteria’ and still remains relevant a quarter of a century later. Equally filled with tight musicianship, infectious melodies and anthemic choruses, Def Leppard and producer “Mutt” Lange reset the boundaries of how accessible metal can be. The use of layers of harmonized backing vocals is especially impressive on this album which is thoroughly recommended to pretty much anyone… No matter what their taste in music is.

Recommended Tracks: Photograph, Rock Of Ages, Foolin’, Too Late For Love & Rock Rock (Till You Drop).



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"Rise Up Gather Around,
Rock This Place To The Ground,
Burn It Up, Let's Go For Broke,
Watch The Night Go Up In Smoke.
Rock on (Rock On), Drive Me Crazier,
No Serenade, No Fire Brigade, just PYROMANIA"


Willie
Moderator
January 6th 2009


15972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Label it whatever you want to; stadium rock, hair metal, hard rock...
Cock Rock, Penis Pop...

Anyway, this album is full of classic songs. I still throw this on every once in awhile. This is one of the earliest albums I can remember listening to because my mom loved these guys.This Message Edited On 01.06.09

Digging: Necropoli - I

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


17213 Comments


such a sexy album.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

withintention
January 6th 2009


297 Comments


people still care about def?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Haha, I've never heard the term "Penis Pop" before Trey. Thanks for the agreement on this album, although telling us all that your mum loved Def Leppard may give more ammunition to the band's critics. ;-)
Sexy album... Sexy reviewer... It's only natural!

Vooligan
January 6th 2009


3541 Comments


Nice review Davey, So according to Def Leppard, I have a gun.....
Cool!This Message Edited On 01.06.09

Douchebag
January 6th 2009


3624 Comments


haha man i KNEW you would review this!
good review as usual. to be honest i've recieved lots of albums recently so i still haven't given this the listen it deserves....

"No Serenade, No Fire Brigade, just PYROMANIA!"

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"Can you feel it in the air? There's danger in the air... Ohhh, Billy's got a gun".
Now make sure you've got that safety on Billy.
It probably wasn't a difficult guess to suggest I was going to review this album Alligator. Although, that may be it for the Def Lep reviews for a while. Give this a listen, I am almost certain you will like it a fair bit.

Jim
January 6th 2009


5110 Comments


i'll probably D/L this after reading this review
you have quite the persuasive charm, davey

Vooligan
January 6th 2009


3541 Comments


Safety? Bugger that.
*accidently shoots a hole in the roof*

Douchebag
January 6th 2009


3624 Comments


yeah man, i've given it a few spins. i just need to ram it into my memory. Good stuff. Got a feeling i'm gonna love this album. (maybe not as much as Hysteria).

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I hope my "persuasive charm" pays off this instance Jim. If it does not, I can assure you that I will be just as disappointed as you, if not more. Let me know what you eventually think...
I think I can hear the helicopters circling over Melbourne's east as we speak now Billy. Stop shooting at them!
Ram away into your memory Alligator. "Hysteria"...??? Never heard of it. Oh yes I have, but what's a Muse song got to do with Def Leppard?

Vooligan
January 6th 2009


3541 Comments


Make Me!

foreverendeared
January 6th 2009


14678 Comments


i can't believe i haven't rated this. this was one of the first CDs i ever purchased. I think i got it in 6th grade or something and loved it. i haven't listened to it in a few years though. Can you imagine trying to get this album art approved post-9/11?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Billy, listen to this album. Become one with the music... & be distracted while I take the gun off you.
Good point about the album art foreverendeared. They would have to do a Jimmy Eat World & basically reprint the whole album if their timing was as bad as JEW's. I've always liked the cover for whatever reason. And funny that you mention that it was one of the first CDs you ever purcahsed, because it was also one of mine. I did buy 'Hysteria' first though & then worked back to this.

Fugue
January 6th 2009


7353 Comments


This is one of their best right? Would it be a good place to start or not?
As for the review, solid as always :-)

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is definitely right up there with their best Ross & many would argue that it is indeed their best.
I've never really thought about the question as to where is best to start with Def Leppard, but now that you ask, I would definitely state this album. This is because it contains a bit of everything from throughout their career. There is a touch of Led Zeppelin in a couple of songs, some Judas Priest/Iron Maiden-like metal here & there, while this was also the real beginning of the melodic pop-metal sound which would infiltrate their future releases. It's a great mix, but if you like one side of their music more than the other, you can choose to either work backwards or forwards.

Fugue
January 6th 2009


7353 Comments


Ta for that Davey, I will almost certainly check this out within the next week or so, before I have to start revising for my exams. When you say they have two aspects to their music, the heavy-metal and poppier-metal, would it bbe correct to assume that the heavier stuff towards the front end of their catalogue, as I have a real urge to rock out.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2009


7338 Comments


Nice review, as always. I don't have anything by Def Leopard, but this sounds pretty good from the review. I might get it if I can get it fairly cheap.This Message Edited On 01.06.09

Nagrarok
January 6th 2009


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review. I've never liked Def Leppard much, though.



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