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"Euphoria", the word evokes a sense of happiness, of joy, and of ecstasy. This is the name of an album released in the late '90s by the NWOBHM band that never was, Def Leppard. Okay, I'm supposed to feel happy, right? Is that the whole point of putting out this album, to make us feel good with this music? Look, how am I supposed to feel good, or even the slightest feeling of pleasantness, when the music in question isn't worth listening to? Why should we feel happy when the music was meant to get stuck in our heads ala "Message in a Bottle" by The Police, and makes us feel enraged? Here's the deal, metal is usually not supposed to be a very euphoric genre of music, so why the pretty title? They've shoveled out some abysmal efforts in the '80s and '90s, and now they're trying to make us feel better? The only way for them to do that is to look back at their roots and remember who they truly were. But they didn't, and the result is the not-so euphoric "Euphoria".
Look, I know I'm sounding a little harsh when I look at this album, it's just that when you compare it to Def Leppard's first efforts, it's just so overpolished and slick that you'd slip and fall if you stepped in it. Here's a fact, Def Leppard, just cos you polish an album so much that its reflection blinds peoples eyes doesn't mean that everybody's going to like it. I mean, come on are you only good at writing love songs? They've written songs that have subjects other than love, I mean, they've done it when recording "On through the Night". You know what we get here? We get some washed-up "rock star"-type guys creating some mind-numbing tragedies such as "Promises" and "Guilty". Both of those don't even sound like metal, or even rock n' roll, they sound more like Def Leppard was trying to imitate the Backstreet Boys with guitars and unreal-sounding choruses. Even the Backstreet Boys would be appalled by this garbage, cos at least they were mostly forgotten about after the '90s. Def Leppard, however, is still going on to be remembered by many people, and thus were are subject to more and more of this nonsense.
Oh man, I can't stand the lyrics to all of these songs, they're just completely pretentious and silly. And that's the nicest way to put them! They pretty much make any song off of "Hysteria" sound like any song off of Iron Maiden's "Piece of Mind". Def Leppard should have gone in the direction of their NWOBHM counterparts, Iron Maiden. They wrote lyrics that were poetic, that delivered a clear message, that actually showed some intelligence in their songwriting. On "Euphoria", we get none of that, we get lyrics that are so cheesy, you'd think that it came from a dairy! Here's one example, "Day after Day". The lyrics read as follows: "I feel you, you're under my skin. You look in the mirror, you know where I've been. My heart still beats, but it's not the same. Don't you know my name?" Do those lyrics sound intelligent to you? No they don't, do they? You'd expect to find lyrics involving hearts beating and knowing names in lousy boy band songs. It's a real disgrace to the rock n' roll world in my opinion. It shows that Def Leppard really didn't think too much about songwriting and thought way too much about keeping the money coming when they made this. It doesn't end there, there's also the lyrics to "It's only Love". Here's what some of the lyrics are: "Na na na na na na na na na" Dude, are you serious? Having "na-nas" as legit lyrics to a song? You've got to be kidding me! Where's the intelligence in "na na na na na na na na na"? When sung, these "na-nas" sound annoying and gross. If you replaced the "na-nas" with "nyah-nyahs" I would assume that it would make a whole lot more sense!
Oh, what's a Def Leppard album without a ballad, huh? This album has quite a few of those. "To be Alive" is one of them, and let me tell you something, it's nothing but a load of crap. Like most ballads, it's totally weak and wimpy to the point where members of the band Europe would be slapping their foreheads in disgust. When I listen to that song, I don't think about being sentimental or loving. In fact, I think more about the kind of music that you'd expect to hear at a high school dance where some guys would be together with their girls holding each others hands and swaying to the beat, like that scene in "Napoleon Dynamite" where the title character is dancing with a girl and he comments on how he likes her sleeves. That's what I imagine. Def Leppard has been writing ballads so much, that it pretty much became automatic for people to associate the band with puppy-love ballads rather than hard rock, or even metal. It's really sad, to be honest (not the mood of the ballad, of course, but the fact that Def Leppard used to be good!).
Sometimes it's the little things that bother me about music, and in this case, I would have to complain about "Euphoria"'s fake-sounding production quality. It's totally something I would expect to come out of a Def Leppard album. Drums that sound like science fiction-ey machines, choruses that can only be imitated by robots, and very shallow guitars. It's been on every Def Leppard album since "Pyromania", but it's never been this lousy. Here, it sound so overdone and unrealistic that you just can't seem to categorize it as a rock album anymore. Look, I know Rick Allen is dependent on computers and technology to drum, since he's only got one arm, but that shouldn't be an excuse to make the drums sound like the computers that Allen is using. You can make the drum technology sound like actual drumming, people would buy that. You don't have to shove the "technology" factor into people's faces by making the drumming sound like Def Leppard was using a drum machine the whole time, and that Allen wasn't even there. This is getting ridiculous.
What's so "euphoric" about "Euphoria" anyway? Practically nothing, really. I don't feel the slightest bit of happiness when listening to this pretentious junk. It's nothing but a bubblegum cash cow that Def Leppard made in the late '90s to capitalize on the boy band craze that was going on at the time. That's my theory. Ever since Def Leppard discovered that they could make money off of poor-quality songwriting in their salad days in the '80s, everything started to go down the tubes. Now look at them. Look at them real good. Do you see how they try to make us happy with that crap? Their definition of "Euphoria" really isn't the same as mine.
Def Leppard is possibly one of the most under rated Metal bands of all time. Many don’t consider them Metal at all, while it’s true that some of their release are straight up Hard Rock, more often then not the others are straight Heavy Metal.
Euphoria is an album that could’ve/should’ve come out right after Hysteria. They have a lot of similarities yet aren’t clones. The production is good enough for what this is. The guitars are the trademark clean, distorted, over driven, happy and complicated. The few solos that are within are great.
The bass is par for the band as is the drumming (honestly there’s only so much a one armed musician can truly do; and while its commendable that they’ve stuck by their mates side all these years, he should have bowed out on his own accord. Because of him they’ve been stuck on the same song for 20 years). The vocals are slightly different from prior releases as Joe seems to be loosing his voice. This is first noticed on the end of the song ‘Promises’. The lyrical theme is still the same that it’s been for over a decade now.
Any real short comings would be that this does drag towards the end and it’s rather formulaic (this shouldn’t come as a surprise however). In their standard form they are trying to write hits, not songs. The “hits” on this album are very good, the rest is simply filler.
This is a nostalgic album that is nostalgic by pure accident. Unlike Leppards last three attempts at recording, this one isn’t going backwards and rehashing old glories, rather it’s the band doing what they do best. This is a fun and simple romp into the mid-late 80’s for those of us who remember the days when talented guitarists/bands were not only played on the radio, but on mtv as well.
There were many interesting things going on in the musical realm during the year of 1999 as the masses grew bored with the fly by night fads of Grunge, Alternative Rock (ergo recycled 70s punk minus the credibility), Punk Ska, and a rather ridiculous Big Band Swing revival. One of these was the revival of interest in 80s metal, mostly of the cock rock variety, which is where Def Leppard comes into things. They’ve consistently released decent and marketable music that marries some remnants of their early NWOBHM style with the more commercial AC/DC brand of hard rock and the sappy Power Ballads of the 80s Glam outfits.
This album is pretty much the best case scenario to come about when a band decides to plagiarize their past, resulting in something that is mostly enjoyable though far from new and original. Most of it goes back to their glory days during the Pyromania and Hysteria releases, containing all the strengths and the trappings of those highly successful albums. Unfortunately we also have some remnants of the rock minus the cock shit pile “Slang” that are skip worthy, but thankfully few in number.
The performance of the musicians is pretty much what you’d expect out of these guys: extremely simple bass and drum lines, a lot of minimalist riffs thrown together to create a dense guitar texture, and heavily emphasized lead vocals accompanied with several layered back up tracks during bridge and chorus sections. The only thing that is uneven in the mix is the split of solo duties by the two guitarists, as Phil Collin takes nearly all the lead duties while former Dio axe man Vivian Campbell is simply there to play support. Even when Vivian does get some leads like on the outro to the single “Promises”, his improvisations are low in the mix and buried under a ton of vocal ad libs. Interviews done with him by various Guitar Magazines where he denounces his own work with Dio as being some kind of slave labor are elucidating as to why he would settle for a disposition like. But even Vivian’s metal impotence can’t rob this album of its good points.
As with all their solid releases, this band really shines during its harder rocking moments. “Demolition Man” and “Paper Sun” are instant classics that will please all fans of the band. “21st Century Sha La La La Girl” is not far behind with some wicked rock riffs and driving atmosphere. The short instrumental “Disintegrate” is a nice little technical surprise from a band that rarely dabbles in such things and showcases the all around talent this band possesses.
Most of the rest of the good stuff on here are exercises in sheer self-plagiarism, most of them being the more radio friendly tracks on here. “Promises” is another variation on the same theme originally heard on Pyromania’s “Photograph”, much as was the case with “Armageddon It” . Both the more up tempo ballad “Guilty” and its more laid back sister “Goodbye” also could be inserted into the Hysteria album and fit in perfectly.
The three turd-burglars out of the bunch that still carry remnants of the stupid sounds we heard on “Slang” show themselves in the forms of “It’s only love”, “All Night” and “Back in your face”. The first is an utterly poor imitation of a mid 90s acoustically driven radio jockey, while the second screams bad Red Hot Chili Peppers rip off with a more classic rock edge (think Give it Away mixed with AC/DC and you’ll get the picture). My personal pick for the true bomb of this album is the last one “Back in your face”, which succeeds not only in being a recycled chord progression from every AC/DC song ever written, but also has some of the most idiotically pop oriented lyrics I’ve ever heard. We’ve talking the kind of nonsense penned by the likes of N’Sync.
Fans of Def Leppard should be pleased with this release. It’s not perfect, it’s not original, but it is worlds better than the last album they put out. If you liked Pyromania and Hysteria this will most likely treat you almost as well as those albums did. This music doesn’t really fall under the metal genre, but it is reminiscent of far better times for music than what we had to go through the 8 years before this album was released.