Review Summary: Def Leppard attempt to foresee the future, but the result is an unfocused hit & miss affair that is predominantly devoid of quality hooks. Just passable, but it leaves the band’s future very much up in the air.
There is a good reason why very few bands take their careers into a third decade. As the years pass by, it is a near impossible task for musicians of any genre to successfully balance what made them successful in the past, with what listeners want to hear at any given point in time. For this reason, the artists that end up lasting for the long haul are more often than not, those who practically foresee the near future and progress their sound.
Despite strong sales and a decent critical reaction for 1992 album ‘Adrenalize’, English quintet Def Leppard could see the writing on the wall following that release. Their previous metal/hard-rock sound had taken a left turn towards popsville, a switch in direction that appeared to be an incorrect one as grunge and alt-rock bands began to gain mainstream appeal and acclaim at the beginning of the 90s. It was time to attempt to foresee the future and serve up something different… And so we have Def Leppard’s sixth full-length release; ‘Slang’.
Unfortunately, instead of choosing a direction and going with it, the veteran Sheffield outfit (alongside new co-producer Pete Woodroffe) decide to throw absolutely everything at the wall to see what sticks. That can be seen in the first three tracks alone, as ‘Truth’ shows industrial leanings, ‘Turn To Dust’ heavily uses an Indian Sarangi, while the horrendous title track (which was amazingly chosen as lead single) is the band’s stab at nu-metal. In a sense, some of the fortune telling was spot on, since industrial and nu-metal were to gather momentum as the decade progressed. However, the delivery was anything but spot on, as these areas were simply not Def Leppard’s specialties.
Thankfully, ‘Slang’ contains a solid and workmanlike mid-album quartet of tracks which make the album passable. 3rd single ‘All I Want Is Everything’ is a mid-tempo radio-friendly cut that is well-performed and contains lyrics that will hit home for some. Meanwhile, 2nd single ‘Work It Out’ is a darker subdued piece which probably best exemplifies what Def Leppard were aiming for on this album. Most notable on this song is the fact that Rick Allen has reverted back to more of an acoustic-sounding drum-kit, as opposed to the very electronic sounding drums of the previous two albums.
The album highlight is 4th single ‘Breathe A Sigh’. Initially a super slow ballad, this builds up momentum well and diverts away from the power-ballad style of the bands past. Instead, it chooses sparse instrumentation and terrific vocal harmonies to make it a resounding success. The following ‘Deliver Me’ is then a strange cut that isn’t totally convincing, but effectively uses the varying vocal styles of Joe Elliott to good effect.
While the final four tracks deliver a vast array of this, that and the other which could separately appeal to some listeners (for instance, ‘Gift Of Flesh’ is the heaviest piece here), the strength and quality of the songs themselves are mediocre at best. That may be a little harsh on atmospheric ballad ‘Blood Runs Cold’, but the bottom line is that this album simply doesn’t hold interest to the very end. This is especially the case for the bland and arguably downright bad final duo which take up over ten minutes of time.
As the phrase suggests, there is often a fine line between being brave and foolish. On ‘Slang’, Def Leppard may have indeed crossed that line as, in progressing outside of their comfort zone, their limitations have become a little too apparent. Things are not helped by the fact that the band has taken an unfocused approach in crafting their new sound, resulting in a hit and miss affair that is predominantly devoid of quality hooks. Ultimately, ‘Slang’ may be a passable release (if only just), but it leaves Def Leppard’s future very much up in the air.
Recommended Tracks: Breathe A Sigh, All I Want Is Everything & Work It Out.
I see no-one took up the plight for Def Leppard while I was away. Well, for all of those who asked for another review (umm, I can't recall who those were right now), here it is (insert maniacal laugh here)!!!
Seriously, this will be the last of them. I have already started to do sound-offs for the rest of their discography.
Ah, yes. We adore being called Americans... Mexicans though, when we tell them that we're not American and that we're Canadian, they're delighted; Canadians have a much warmer reception down here -- mostly because we flippantly let anybody into our country (unlike some other possibly smarter country).
I'll actually be in California all tomorrow, but I'll keep a watchful eye out for that list (and more Def Leppard reviews, ahem).
Haha. Mexico isn't the only place like that. We were somewhere in Europe & a native was having a go at one of our tour members. Somewhere in the rant, the word "rude americano" was included. When the person said they were a Canadian & pulled out a passport to prove it, the entire tone of the conversation changed to be much friendlier.
Aussies are also universally well liked (although the English hate us taking their jobs) & that's despite us not flippantly letting anybody into our country (although some Aussies would debate that).
Haha, brilliant. I'm not certain what makes us seem less benign than Americans; we're supposedly more polite but I don't believe that for a second. I was in Vancouver last week in a room full of Aussies (trying to get my passport back) and it was nice to dwell in their amiable presence for a while. Nice bunch of guys.
Slightly irrelevant question: were you ever in Scotland?
I've never heard Phrase's debut album and I'm not sure I've even seen a copy of it anywhere. As for reviewing 'Clockwork', I'm unsure it would be too different from yours. I've probably got it rated at a 4 at present, but having said that, it may currently be my album of the year (then again, I haven't heard much '09 stuff).
Also on your recommendation, I did give the Gallows album a listen. It didn't knock me over on the first few run-throughs, but I always give hardcore bands a 2nd & 3rd chance due to lack of accessibility.
Can't wait to get me some TBSunday, Emery & Karnivool when I get some time! Also, have you heard the new Enter Shikari yet?
Batman, I'm liking you more & more with each of your comments.
LOL metalstyles. I thought I better end the Leppard reviews before I got bottled through a computer screen. But please don't check out the song 'Slang'. You can imagine how bad it would be easily enough.
Now Pedro, bashing someone doesn't sound very nice at all... Depending on what they did I guess...
Oh boy, I don't know whether it's a positive or a negative that I inspired a Vanilla Ice album review. But ummm, "You're welcome" I guess. I am a bit more concerned with your review #101. You don't cross Vinny Mac my friend. I'd expect a visit from The Undertaker if I was you! :-)
heh Davey tbh I thought that asides the lyrics Slang wasen't that bad at all hahahaha.
OH and about the troll case, it was a darn crackhouse. I used about every nervcell i had in trying to put some sense into the guy since me and OllieS were the only guys trying to actually help him. BUt the guy was just such a dick and finally I gave up after about 20 pages of pointless arguments by him. Sadly the mods deleted it I think. The user was GravyCannon and the review was about Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory. He really was the worst troll ever, a troll who doesn't think he is a troll but still acts like he's the king of the place