The Sheffield rock legends’ seventh studio album, originally released in 1999, gets the vinyl reissue treatment here.
It was the second full album to feature guitarist Vivian Campbell, which returned the band to a five piece following the death of Steve Clark, and after the slightly formulaic Adrenalize and trend chasing Slang (if there was ever a reason not to follow 90s trends. ……), Euphoria was an attempt to try to get back to the band’s classic 80s sound.
Always at the melodic end of rock and metal, the band’s sound is often typified by layered vocals and guitars, and this album is no different. And at a time when the world was recovering from the 90s’ alternative trends and progressive power metal was de rigueur, (a direction even Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon would nod to during the 00s), Def Leppard put 2 fingers up at the establishment and just reverted to what they do best.
The album was self produced, with the help of Pete Woodroffe (long time collaborator Robert John Mutt Lange previously tied up, but did briefly contribute during the sessions), the album kicks off in fine fashion with Demolition Man. It’s an uptempo song and on one level a more metal move, but the vocal lines, layering and melody give a very palatable sound. A hint of fuzz to the guitar sound, there are pop and glam elements. The guitar work in Promises is hark back to the mid 80s, the vocals nod back to Hysteria. A good track though it is, much like parts of Adrenalize, one does have to wonder if Leppard’s soul ever made it out of the 80s. The track did top the US mainstream rock chart.
Then there’s Back In Your Face, again a catchy chorus, and a nod to mid 70s Quatro or Glitter.
Paper Sun was a (minor) hit had some heavier moments, and the classic layered vocal chorus.
There are some other influences coming through, but Def Leppard are one of those bands you’ll instantly recognise whatever they do. Overall by far the best listen in over 10 years. Quite clearly they do their thing, varying the metal and glam touches, they don’t care, and they don’t need to. At the time some described the elements of the album as robotic and bloodless; a little harsh, but I don’t thing anything they do will ever sound as organic as Pyromania. Either way, it in part at least tries to be classic Leppard. Occasionally too hard but a lot of fun and a very good album all the same.
A couple of guest appearances, including a guitar solo from racing driver Damon Hill.
The album wasn’t originally released on vinyl, in fact not until 2019’s Collection Vol 2 box. This stand alone issue, on heavy weight double vinyl, gatefold sleeve, inner sleeves, looks and feels (and smells) as good as it sounds. If I were to be picky, the only thing I’d add would may be a bonus 45 of the original Japanese and Australian bonus tracks.
If you’re a fan or an audiophile, well worth investing in.
Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine