Album review: Def Leppard, Hysteria (1987)


By Steve Newton

You’ve probably heard some of the buzz words used to categorize various types of heavy metal. There’s speed metal, thrash metal, death metal,  and–in the case of bands like Venom–toilet metal.

Well, here’s a new one: happy metal. It pretty well sums up the sound of Def Leppard’s first studio album in four years, but the joyful feeling coming off Hysteria is rather surprising considering the nightmarish hurdles the band had to leap to finally get this record out.

Their biggest setback came when drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash. The band stuck behind him though, and a determined Allen managed to develop a tricky left-foot technique for playing electronic drums.

The band’s producer, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, was also involved in a car crash, which caused further delays. Several false starts in the studio compounded the band’s frustration. And then there was the pressure of trying to come up with something as good as (or better than) their previous release Pyromania (which sold an astounding 10 million copies worldwide).

But somehow they did it, because Hysteria is their strongest release yet. It still sports rowdy, riff-riddled rockers like the previous album with tunes like “Don’t Shoot Shotgun” and “Run Riot”, but there are also more subtle and mature arrangements on such tracks as “Love Bites” and “Hysteria”.

Lead singer Joe Elliott, whose vocals are the band’s most distinguishing feature, has developed a thicker, more bluesy voice, as can be heard on the LP’s second single, “Animal”.

And to top things off, the band really gives you your money’s worth. There are no less than 12 songs on Hysteria, adding up to over an hour’s worth of listening pleasure.



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