1987, Music

Hysteria (1987) by Def Leppard

I have had a hard time finding this album online; Google Play doesn’t have a license for the early Def Leppard stuff (just their later, better stuff!!) and YouTube is missing a bunch of songs. So I probably shouldn’t review it. But I can and I will.

I have seen Def Leppard members claim in interviews that they are not “hair metal” and are annoyed that they were lumped in with the thing. And, sure, these guys are not a “hair metal” band from LA, in the sense of, say, Motley Crue, but claiming this music is not “hair metal” seems like splitting hairs. Because, the thing is, it’s softer than “hair metal”… and just as polished.

As someone on RYM noted, this sounds like an album performed by an ’80s “rock machine.” It doesn’t really sound human, beyond Elliott’s vocals, which are generic enough to be mistaken for any other hair metal… excuse me, rock singer’s. It should come as no surprise that this was produced by Mutt Lange. The man is responsible for so much evil…

The songs are generic ’80s rock anthems with shout-along choruses – and plenty of clean backing vocals encouraging you to shout along – which would certainly appeal to me if I remembered them from my childhood but now strike me as, well, generic.

The lyrics are not always terrible but when Elliott (or whomever) tries to get profound things get messy. And when he’s not trying to be profound, he just sounds like another sexist ’80s lead vocalist.

As alluded to before, the production is glossy as fuck. This is some shiny “rock” music. All the more poppy for the fact that there is no sign of contemporary metal on this record (despite sites considering it “glam metal”).

I don’t know how this compares to their earlier records or their latest ones, in music or in glossy production awfulness, but it is one of the most popular records of the 1980s, which makes me sad.

The only cool thing about this band is that their drummer was able to continue playing after his car accident. I wish the music he got to play was better.


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