I struggled with just giving Hysteria my usual three listens and so I was not looking forward to this record. The good news is that it is better than Hysteria. The bad news is that claiming anything is better than Hysteria is damning with faint praise.
Despite Mutt Lange’s presence here, Def Leppard still resemble an actual rock band here. This record seems to be part of Lange’s transition from the man who made AC/DC records to the man who helped Shania Twain conquer the world. This record is hardly as polished as Hysteria, and it’s far weirder (relatively speaking) but it’s also hardly as raw as AC/DC or its other influences.
And that’s the problem for me with this one: though I can handle the production a lot more than I could on Hysteria this record still sounds like its influences, albeit significantly popped up. At times Def Leppard sounds like pop Ac/DC – which shouldn’t be surprising given Lange’s presence – and at times they sound like a hilariously poppy version of Iron Maiden. (Seriously.) I don’t know what these guys sounded like before Mutt got his hands on them, but I’m not sure that poppy and derivative is any better than being derivative. (Well, being poppy and derivative is be better for Def Leppard, financially speaking.)
I will grant that “Photograph” does not sound like either of the above-mentioned bands, but that’s because it’s too commercial for either of those comparisons. It has more in common with Boston or something like that.
So, as you can imagine, using the term “metal” in regards to this band – even when prefaced with “glam” – is a great misnomer. But Def Leppard rejected that label anyway. This is just arena rock with louder guitars via NWOBHM and the teeniest (I stress ‘teeniest’) hint of quirk.