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After a four year absence coming off of a diamond selling album Leppard released Hysteria, evoking mixed reactions from many of their fans. A huge sound overhaul had taken place during the recording of the album. The band no longer sounded like a heavier AC/DC, they sounded like a heavier Michael Jackson. Maybe not that drastic, but they were surely trying to pick up some of the same audience. Had the album been pop drivel they would've been labelled sell outs by more than just their original fans, but Hysteria does rock in some places, and the hooks are meticulously and perfectly constructed to where the songs that don't stand strong on their own as a rare form of good pop music.
After a disastrous test run with Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf and Billy Squier fame, and Phil Spector of Beatles fame, Leppard wisely returned to the man who had brought this young band success in the first place, Robert John "Mutt Lange. His production methods were never and never became as insane as they are on this album. The sound is huge. Energy replaced by precision. Once again, Rick Allen is replaced with the Fairlight synthesizer, though the samples on this album a huge improvement over the ones used on Pyromania. Hundreds of layers of backing vocals being sung simultaneously with compression, mid-range reduction EQ, and high-pass filters to make them shiny pop perfection. Mike Shipley steps down as engineer to mix the album, and turns the recording duties over to Nigel Green. The team of Green engineering and Shipley mixing works tremendously on this album, as their roles were reversed on the previous album.
The sound quality on Hysteria is a step up, an insane level of absolute perfection. Dozens of layers or recorded guitar parts are seamlessly blended without ever getting in the way of the main attraction of these songs, the vocal melodies. The band used Rockman amplifiers during the recording of the album, which gives a completely clean guitar sound with distortion added later when it was necessary. Though Shipley hated the sound of the amps calling them, "shitty [with] no real balls", the rest agreed that recording that many Marshall's would over-power every other instrument and Shipley eventually agreed. The recording was so meticulous that Lange actually made the band record one section of the title track one note in a chord at a time and then dubbed them together later so that each note struck at exactly the same time.
The vocals on this album did require special treatment, as their are literally hundreds of backing tracks. The hooks are some of the catchiest in any genre, and the melodies are incredibly well thought out, dissected for human response. "Animal", "Armageddon It", and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" are designed to stay in your head and by extension, in your speakers for weeks on end. These are meticulously crafted pop tunes, every second carefully thought out, being spontaneous was out of the question. Every note on Hysteria serves a purpose, everything is there for a reason. The band seems to have the most fun on side two tracks like "Don't Shoot Shotgun", "Run Riot", and "Excitable", but even this fun doesn't sound loose, and sounds precisely calculated and executed. The ballads are rather syrupy, but they are incredibly catchy which makes them guilty pleasures as well. The title track being the best of them, and "Love Bites" being the most syrupy. Lange's influence in the band was noticeable before, but he may as well be the leader of the band on this one. Producing every single breath found on this album down to an atom for absolute perfection is what he did. It drove him out of the business for years, his magnum opus on such a grand scale that it would have taken many lesser producers out of the game permanently, but he just kept on going. He never did match the production perfection that he got on Hysteria ever again, but his legacy remains much intact.
Though fans of metal may not admire Hysteria, it is a classic album, and it is an achievement of some sort. If not of hard rock then of pop, and no doubt one of production. Some may see it as formulaic and more of a product than music, but it's not. It's simply the closest anyone has ever come to reaching pop perfection.
Alright, it's about time I put my two cents into this record. Most metal fans seem to hate it, which I get it, everybody's entitled to their own opinion. But people need to relax, I get it, it isn't metal, and the only reason that it's on this site is because their first two records were metal. But it is not a bad album at all. Everything about it musically is pretty good, it's just simply a rock album from the late '80s that got a lot of commercial success.
Lets start with what everyone seems to hate the most, the vocals. His voice is still somewhat unique sounding, and while a lot of people think it's cheesy, I think it sounds nice. Not even close to metal, but still good. The songs have a good beat, and are all good songs for a very happy mood, other than maybe the two ballads, "Hysteria" and "Love Bites". Other than that, his voice gives it that feel good sound that you would find with The Eagles or Bon Jovi. The voice fits the instruments perfectly, since it is on key, whether the lyrics are cheesy or not. I mean unless they're terrible, that isn't a huge problem. Otherwise I would not like The Ramones.
Instrument wise, they us a lot of synth, which is typical for the '80s. They wanted commercial success and did it by using the pop industry elements. Regardless, there's still the basic metal or rock instruments, the guitars, bass, and drums. The drummer does a good job keeping the beat (enjoy those arms while ya got em man) and the guitars are catchy as well as the voice. Sure, he's no Randy Rhodes or Dimebag Darrell, but it's not bad. Heavy or not, I don't think there is a bad track on this album. The only reason I only gave it a 91% is because the pop element doesn't mix well with metal. But they still aren't bad musically, so i can't bash on it. At least its a hell of a lot better than the pop we get today.
The track that stands out to me the most would have to be the title track, "Hysteria". As it is very calm and a good relaxing one, it doesn't really use that pop element at all, like the rest do. It has a feel to it that it had more effort behind it than the other songs. Even I will admit, "Pour Some Sugar On Me" is pretty bad and also brings down the rating a little. But "Armageddon It" is probably tied with the title track, as it's very catchy and a very fun song overall. "Rocket" is also phenomenal, with its effects and the beat that it has overall.
To me, this is a way to show my variety. Any other person would say "Anyone who likes this probably doesn't like real metal and won't listen to anything harsh". Well that's a huge crock of shit, because I love stuff like this, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Cinderella, etc. But guess what else, I also love Slayer, Judas Priest, Deicide, Venom, Death, Dio, etc. So those who say that you can't like both are wrong. I would never say that one wouldn't like this if you're into heavy stuff, or vice versa. I think it's a great, catchy album musically, just not your typical metal.
Def Leppard started life in the late 70s as a respectable classic rock outfit, complete with a name derived from Led Zeppelin and the chops to at least not make that a complete joke. With the enjoyable On Through the Night and the truly excellent High 'n' Dry, our Sheffield friends were shaping up to be, if not a truly top-tier NWOBHM band, then at least a damn good one.
But even in these glory days there was the writing on the wall. However skilled they may have been, two albums of songs about partying and chicks suggested that the band was seeing dollar signs, and towards that end they must have known their future lay in pop rock, however much subsequent generations of metalheads may lament that. And so the world was bequeathed Pyromania, an album that launched them right to the top of the big hairy heap of glam metal bands. The production was sheeny, the hooks were simple, and the metallic energy had been toned back in favor of a fairly sterile, if admittedly catchy, vocals-heavy pop structure. Damned if it didn't work the way Leppard wanted it to.
But it wasn't enough.
That brings me to this particular bajillion dollar juggernaut of popdom, Hysteria. Metalheads love to fart on Hysteria, and frankly it's pretty obvious why. Put simply, there is no metal in Hysteria. I'd dare say there's barely even rock music at all, for that matter. I've heard it said (on Wikipedia) that they had intended to record "a rock version of Michael Jackson's Thriller", which is a fancy way of saying "let's not make a rock album at all and instead just make ourselves billionaires." And thus it was that greed beget Hysteria, an album on which was spent four years and as many millions of dollars to engineer The Ultimate Pop Album. And I swear, Hysteria really does sound like it was generated by a machine, some sort of leopard-print supercomputer built to synthesize an album so catchy it could singlehandedly be the theme song for the 80s, and so cleanly perfectly soullessly produced that you could eat off of it. Or do coke off of it, or whatever Def Leppard did. The point is, all fucking credit to the producers because they're the ones who really deserve credit for this album. It barely even sounds like human beings were involved in making it at all. The "guitarwork", simple and pushed into the background as it is, is so tinny and echoey that it doesn't even sound like an instrument being played, and even Joe Elliott's greasiness has somehow been polished to a shine. Frankly, the album is far more interesting as a production project than a musical one.
Now, before I get to the songs themselves, I must ask you the reader to exorcise all thoughts of metal from your mind, for there is none to be found here. I know that's a tall order on any site called the "Metal Archives" but it's the only way you'll possibly not hate this album. "Catchy" is the word on Hysteria, and that means no solos or tempo changes or complex riffs or anything to stop the kids singing and dancing along. I'll admit now that I'm not allergic to catchy easily digested music, and that like candy it can be fun and enjoyable in a guilty sort of way but will leave me feeling gross if I consume too much of it.
Like any good late-80's glam album, Hysteria has its share of ballads, in this case 3 of them: "Love Bites", the title track and "Love and Affection". As much as I usually hate ballads as nasty treacly bullshit, the ones on this album, strangely, don't annoy me that much. Maybe it's because there's no actual rock music on the album to contrast them with, or maybe the production is so sheeny that it's obvious that the music isn't even trying to strike an emotional chord (many ballads do try, and fail hideously.) "Love and Affection", the final fade-out track, is the weakest of the three, basically a retread of "Hysteria" but two tracks later. But the structure of all three is pretty similar, with all emphasis placed on vocals and endless choruses and the instruments just kind of providing texture.
Side one of the album is entirely made up of singles (six of the whopping seven on this beast), including the above-mentioned "Love Bites" and five other derivative but mostly catchy pop-rock numbers. "Rocket" is a pretty dumb song, though, and I'm not sure why it became a single. It's 6 and a half minutes but it feels long as shit because half of it is just the same stupid drum beat with random samples and rocketship sound effects being farted out. The lyrics namedrop an assortment of better songs by more respected artists, in I guess Def Leppard's futile hope to create some kind of direct association. Nice try, guys. The other side-one singles are mostly par-for-the-course hits about parties and sex and shit: basic hooks, choruses all over the fucking place, guitars and vocals as synthy as the synthesizers in the background. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" is probably the most memorable of the bunch...the lyrics are retarded of course, but, once again, it's a guilty pleasure.
Side two opens with "Gods of War", and wow, look out, because Def Leppard are getting real, guys. It's an anti-war song! Look how smart and like socially engaged they are! Yeah, sorry guys, it's hard to buy any kind of serious message from you when the last song you played contained "You try comin' on when you need some, but then you don't 'cause you already did" in its lyrics. Once again, admittedly fun and catchy, although the song proceeds to waste time and date itself with some "war" sound effects and clips of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher talking shit to dead third-world dictators. "Don's Shoot Shotgun" and "Run Riot" are the point at which the album runs headlong into filler territory, where it more or less stays until the end. It's not exactly a good sign when the two most memorable songs in half your album are ballads, but then again, it's pop, not rock or metal, so the ballads are where the money is. In any event, the album was crammed into a full hour when it didn't really need to be.
I have to admit to kind of liking Hysteria. For all its sins, all its disappointment, and all its talentless soulless avaricious teenybopping, it's still pretty innocent fun, and I still put it on from time to time. The great irony is that, despite their efforts to create a "rock version of Thriller", Hysteria was so mired in the cliches and motifs of 80's music--many of which it created, or at least perfected--that it's too dated to be much of anything other than a novelty, a throwback to a bygone age that many people prefer not to relive. It's unfortunate that Hysteria encouraged many of the era's other rock and metal acts to pursue a similarly saccharine course, and also that Def Leppard appears to have forever sold their talent to Satan in return for one massively successful record, but if you're looking for a catchy 80's record, it's hard to find more catchy or more 80's than Hysteria.
Def Leppard; who would've known that they were once on the same NWOBHM boat as Iron Maiden and Saxon? Not the people who discovered "Hysteria" first, that's for sure! It would be an extreme shock for 80s pop fans who love this album to find that Def Leppard was once a group of young Brits who had quite a lot of talent. As the band got more and more popular, however, they decided to shove talent out of the way in favor of topping the charts and selling millions of records. "Hysteria" is the album that charted the highest and sold the most. It is a journey into everything the media loved (and most of us hated) about the 80s; sugary-sweet cavity-inducing ballads, as well as copious amounts of synthesizer pop.
"Rocket" is one of my least favorite songs on this album. The song's length (six minutes and thirty-seven seconds), suggests something that requires pure musicianship and quite a few solos and riffs. Instead, we get a catchy pop song that has nothing but other song titles from other musical acts as lyrics ("Jack Flash, Rocket Man, Sergeant Pepper and the Band"? What original lyrics!). And that's not all; after the chorus of the second verse, there is supposed to be an impressive solo, but nope! We get TWO MINUTES of random synthesizer sounds instead! That's right, two minutes of nothing but synthesizer noises, and nothing to suggest a guitar solo! Congratulations Def Leppard, you have just sold out!
"Love Bites", "Hysteria" and "Love and Affection" are typical of the 80s. They are extremely syrupy puppy-love ballads that would make even The Carpenters vomit. The lyrics of these songs are totally mushy and generic."Love Bites", for example has ,"Who do you think of, and does he look like me?" and "When you wake up, will you walk out? It can't be love if you throw it about." And of course, much of them have less guitar and more synthesizers. I am pretty sure that if any of these songs was a book, it probably would have been written by Nicholas Sparks!
Although there are some songs on this album that are actually pretty decent ("Run Riot" is a pretty rocking song), those are outweighed by how utterly ridiculous songs like "Don't Shoot Shotgun" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" are. If you stumbled upon any of these songs and heard insanely cheesy lyrics, would you take it seriously? I sure wouldn't! "Gods of War" almost had it. The lyrics to that one make a very good anti-war statement. It has a pretty decent guitar riff, and kind of a cool bass riff at the beginning. It could have been a terrific song, if it didn't have the sound effects of planes, machine guns, explosions, and Ronald Reagan speeches going on for two full minutes at the end!
All in all, this is not a very good album at all. The lyrics are cheesy, there are few amazing guitar solos and riffs and the amount of synthesizers disgusts me. Some people would regard this as a classic gem of the 80s. Those people couldn't be any more wrong. If they want a classic gem of the 80s, they should try "On Through the Night". That album has great musicianship curtsey of Pete Willis and Steve Clark and is a classic album of the NWOBHM. "Hysteria" is a bold departure from talent and ability and the members of Def Leppard are only hulking shells of their own former selves. Many would consider this album their favorite, but to me, it just isn't that great.
We all know what happened back in 1983 with “Pyromania”. A crushing success that sold millions of copies, the sound of decadence, the album that killed the NWOBHM definitely. During that time, British bands tried hard to conquer the US market and reach its charts. From Priest to Maiden, including Saxon, even groups whose nature was incompatible with explicit commercial intentions, like Jaguar, Diamond Head or Raven. Leppard became the true winners of that battle for popularity, bucks and radio hits. Becoming a total parody of what they used to be back in the early 80’s, selling out, getting more and more mediocre. 7 years after their first successful record, they were back with this crime against music.
“Pyromania” was absolutely lame, commercial, overproduced and terrible, but not as much as what you will find here! The sound hasn’t improved at all, just the opposite: their music has become even more simple, cheesy, clumsy and embarrassing. There’s no notable difference between the songs, because all follow the same direction and intention. The poor song-writing puts emphasis on vocals, vocals and vocals (nothing else), attempting to make the lyrics catchy by repeating them thousands of times per second and providing the voices of an overloaded sound, so any ear can’t escape them. What about the instruments? A very imperfect support which avoids completely any kind of difficulty or technique. Dumb riffs, easy repetitive guitar lines, short inconsistent solos, easy rhythms and the worst rhymes ever (“I gotta know tonight if you're alone tonight”, enough said...). This is what sells records, it’s all about the vocals and their pathetic words. Love, chicks, party, romance, that’s the only thing in life for Elliot and co. They just wanna impress all girls with their motley looks. Their instrumental incompetence, lack of skills, musicianship and talent doesn’t matter. Nothing to do with the fine old 70’s British glam (Bowie, T.Rex, Slade, Sweet). These cuts are absolutely vain, empty, comical, featuring easy song-structures, no virtuosism, no attitude. Well, the only attitude here could be described as “I'm too sexy for my shirt” (in fact, this music sounds kinda similar to Right Said Freud’s abysmal pop), like you can notice on Joe Elliot’s voice. He tries so much to sound sensual, hot and irresistible. The result? Horrible, a disaster. Those vocals are terribly annoying, unbearable, making you wanna stop this CD after the first 10 seconds of “Women”. The intense awful voices are omnipresent on each track, no escape.
The production is providing these songs of an overloaded, constantly distorted atmosphere. Damn, this even sounds like dance-pop, with all that electric programmed percussion, synthesizer effects and stupidities. “Excitable”, particularly, features that impossible disco-AOR combination, but each number without exception includes those hateful elements that make this stuff impossible to take seriously. Even Italo-disco, A-Ha, Bananarama or Bryan Adams music had much better arrangements, aggression and virtuosism than this. The incompetence of these guys is scandalous on their performance, which hasn’t any single second of complexity or inspiration. Were these guys really influenced by Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy or Queen? All the characteristics of brilliant British rock are missing here. The creativity, instrumental progression, certain dark imagery or memorable abilities of Black Sabbath, Arthur Brown or Black Widow have nothing to do with this. And now avoiding stereotypes, I must say I can’t find any brilliance, splendor or satisfaction in these 12 stupid compositions. Away from the charisma of Tokyo Blade or Van Halen, the dumb fun of Wrathchild or the amusing scruffy hard rock of Guns N’ Roses; artists that, by that time, did something superior to this wreck. What suprises me the most is the tremendous success and fame this LP reached. How could something so predictable and inconsistent get so far? Anyway, this way keeps selling CDs, posters, t-shirts, playing in huge stadiums and festivals, and making decadent pop albums. It seems that the connection between fame and quality in music is becoming more and more unreal. These guys are the living proof.
In conclusion, if you like easy radio disco songs, Duran Duran and you despise aggression and technique in music, this CD will make you happy. If you enjoy this, then you’d better ignore Venom, Witchfinder General, Witchfynde, Hell or any other non-cheesy NWOBHM band. It’s curious to know that Def Leppard were respected, influential and essential back in the early 80’s, even made a few cool songs in the old days, like “Wasted”, and wore Judas Priest t-shirts. But everything could be summarised in just one line: “Money (That’s What I Want)”, remember the Buddy Guy song? It fits these guys so well. Congratulations to Def Leppard for getting rich with such horrible weak music.
Def Leppard continue down the road they had chosen with Pyromania, simplifying the music further and making it more radio friendly. Where Pyromania was softened up but still had many a heavy moments, with Hysteria the band increases the pop content from it's pop metal to the point that it is more of a pop album than metal. Despite being influenced by Michael Jackson's Thriller, this record holds many an enjoyable moments and as a whole turns out to be a barrel of fun.
Musically the band has reduced much of its heaviness in favour of simple, catchy yet effective melodies which the listener can appreciate by the first listen itself. The songs are simple in structure and all of them are built around a couple of riffs at the most. Even though the riffs and melodies are simple, they are executed quite well by the guitarists. The lyrics are very poor related to the subjects found in traditional rock which make no sense whatsoever. The music is mid paced for most of the duration. The high point of the songs are the choruses. In a simple and straightforward record, it is the choruses that hold the key. And thankfully Hysteria is a winner in that department. The choruses are insanely catchy in a good way and appreciable at the first listen. They are further helped by the multi-layered and toned down vocals. Oh yes that does feel cheesy at times, but to be frank this whole record feels cheesy and sugary as the sweetest syrups you ever might have tasted and the great part is that it is still very enjoyable.
Among the songs, Gods Of War, Armageddon It, Animal, Women, Hysteria Run Riot are all instantly addicting classics. All of them feature excellent musical composition and stellar performances. Gods Of War especially contains a very laudable chorus and works as the highlight of the album. Run Riot is a faster track quite similar Let It Go with more melodic guitar work. Love Bites is a much of a love-hate track, which is a ballad and quite a dullard composition compared to the rest of the upbeat and energetic tracks.
Leppard with this album though may have mellowed their sound, still pack quite a lasting punch in terms of enjoyment. Even though the music is quite watered down and pop influenced it still serves as a great guilty pleasure listen when you have been saturated with your latest brutal, cult death metal records. Bottomline; this album is highly recommended for all fans of classical rock and hard rock. Fans of heavier music are also recommended to check this out.
With an album like this, I can do a lot of things. Compare it with their third album, or even compare it to their first two. Or even elaborate on their entire discography including the horrible nineties, etcetera. But for a change I’ll just act as if Def Leppard didn’t exist before and after this album.
My first introduction to the band was when I was 14 or 15 years old and I saw the video to ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ on TV. As a kid I loved Joan Jett’s I Love rock ‘n roll so the first part of this song had quite obvious references. It combined that old tune with the lovable eighties sleezerock atmosphere and I loved it.
This isn’t metal, not in any way, even AC-DC were louder. This was pure sleezy pop rock and damn good at that. Much more sterile than what van Halen were doing during the eighties and less theatrical. Hysteria was well within every boundary, coloured by numbers, produced by Mutt Lange (need I say more?). It’s not without reason this album became a best seller. The road leading up to this album was long, starting writing and recording three times over before finally working with Mutt Lange, drummer Rick Allen losing his arm, having a personalized (electronic) kit made for him (which of course influenced their sound)
Contrary to most glam and rock bands out there, Hysteria didn’t have standout work on guitar save a few tracks. You hardly notice anything about musicianship when listening to the album. The focus wasn’t on that but most present were the, as said, electronic drums and Joe Elliott’s vocals and the emphasis is constantly on the songs. Often gimmicky produced with lots of delay, reverb and sampling vocal pieces. Mutt Lange must’ve had so much fun producing this (clearly a big budget was available)
A good example is ‘Animal’ which combines the rock from the first two songs with a more laid back, reverb laden eighties pop atmosphere due to the good use of reverb on guitar and would sound great an any compilation album together with Twisted Sister’s ‘Hot Love’ if you need a comparison. ‘Gods of War’ follows a similar patch and it’s the kind of laid back rock tune nobody would mind at a party.
A legion of clear influences rears its head. All moulded into quintessential sleezemetal
On ‘Don't Shoot Shotgun’ slight references to AC-DC and Kiss can be heard and the chorus is more eighties proof than the eighties themselves were and the anthemic rocker ‘Run Riot’ could be covered by all the Wingers, Warrants and other second hair metal wave bands of the late eighties in the world and never feel out of place. The guitars by the way really shine on this track. A definite highlight.
‘Love Bites’ of course is the famous ballad here even though it sounds rather overlong for 21st century standards, it still had a strong chorus. The title track and Love and Affection are ballads as well albeit slightly less impressive.
Point is, do not treat this as a metal album and don’t even think to compare it to what they did on their first two albums. This is a pop rock album that sold millions and was also inspirational for the second wave of hair metal in the late eighties. See it and listen to it in it’s eighties spectrum and as such Hysteria is undoubtedly one of the most important late eighties commercial rock albums with a shitload of catchy tunes that still make me smile.
Def Leppard have been known for being one of the most successful hard rock bands in history. While according to their record sales, this is true, they mainly have a bad reputation with most metalheadsmainly because of how pop sounding they are. This is true, Def Leppard throughout the mid-late 80s did make very commercial sounding hard rock. Yet, what they lack in balls and heavyness, they make up for in catchiness, and Hysteria has to be one of their most catchy albums while still maintaining their hard rock edge. Hysteria picked up from where Pyromania left off, and made it even more catchy and fun, though they had to sacrifice the balls and riffs that Pyromania and the two albums that preceeded it had. For Def Leppard, however, it works, and they manage to make one of their best albums ever, at least in my opinion.
Songs like Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Don't Shoot Shotgun, and Run Riot are typical 80s hard rock songs just with an extra dose of melodic hooks that only Def Leppard could make. While they are pretty simplistic, they are fun to listen to, and even better to party to. Then, you have the two ballads, Love Bites and Hysteria. For hair ballads, they are damn good. They're actually two of my favorite hair ballads. They both have that "let's lay back and make love" feeling which make them great to listen to while you're sleeping with your girlfriend (or boyfriend, depending on your gender). The only real filler on this album is Excitable. I would've probably given this album around a 98 or even a 99 if it weren't for this track. It's a fun song, but it's also pretty silly with all of the effects and samplers.
For those who dig 80s glam metal and/or like Def Leppard, this is an essiential, and for those who can tolerate a little bit of pop in their music, this should be worth while. While it may be very simplistic and lacks heaviness, you have to admit, Hysteria is one fun album to listen to. Like them or not, Def Leppard are one of the most influential bands to come out of the 80s. POOUUR SOME SUGAR ON MEEEEE!!!!!
Of all the limp-dicked, glam/hair/pop rock bands that made it huge in the 80’s, Def Leppard is easily the least bearable. Their sugary sweet stadium rock anthems are still floundering around on mainstream rock radio play lists, much to the chagrin of everyone that has to hear them. Hysteria is their flagship album: over half of it has garnered radio airplay and it achieved multi-platinum status fairly easily. But popularity never entails quality, as albums like this only reinforce.
That said, I agree completely with PriestofSadWings. Think of all the great ‘87 albums that were commercially ignored while this travesty went and sold a billion copies. All the songs are formulated for mainstream acceptance so it won’t take an astute listener to clearly hear that all the songs share similar characteristics: a noticeable lack of riffage, fairly standard song structures, an overabundance of all-too-eager-to-be-catchy vocal lines, and lyrics that flat out suck. This album is also notable as the first Leppard album where singer Joe Elliot really gets to be unlistenable. His voice is wispy and irritating and listening to the whole album in one sitting is a challenge because of it. And don't let the thought cross your mind that the music might make up for it. The guitars, bass included, provide the absolute bare minimum in riffage, only played to highlight the sucky vocals. Say what you will about hair bands like Winger and Extreme, at least there was some fancy guitar work interspersed with the cheesiness. And speaking of cheese, there’s more than enough for a small town’s ration. Terrible synthesized effects on the vocals combined with lots of backing-vocal-only intros only add to this album’s unpleasantness.
The only songs I don’t mind are “Rocket” and “Animal,” surprisingly because of their respective vocal melodies, possibly made tolerable from years of being pounded in my head through radio play. But no amount of airplay will ever justify unbelievably cheesy yet beloved songs like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and shitty ballads like “Love Bites,” the former being one of the most notoriously bad songs I’ve ever heard while the latter pretty much ruined the Judas Priest song of the same name, for me anyway. The other songs range from that bad to mediocre, starting off with some rock-worthy riffs before following suit with the rest of the album.
If you have a soft spot for 80’s pop rock or are a big fan of Def Leppard, you’re among the only people I can recommend this to. There’s not a trace of metal on here, nor is there a hell of a lot of integrity. The only real highlight is that it’s not nearly as bad as the albums that would follow it; not much of a saving grace in anyone's book.
Def Leppard is probably best known as being the first band to come into the metal scene with strong credentials and then pass up a consistent career as such in favor of more mainstream attention. The releases following "On Through the Night" basically fall into the Zepplin or AC/DC fold of hard rock with a fair share of a more modernist production.
This album sold extraordinarily well in its day. Although I was only 8 years old at the time of its release and I wasn't much of a mathematician at the time, if you said it would eventually break the 10 million album mark, I wouldn't have a hard time believing it. Songs such as "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Armageddon It" were played on rock radio ad nauseum, while "Animal", "Rocket", "Love Bites" and the title track had their fair share of attention on MTV. (Back when the "M" in MTV actually fit with the content of the programming of course)
The vocals on this album are pretty much the classic hybrid of Bon Scott and Robert Plant that was quite common amongst early members of the NWOBHM. Fortunately, unlike more unoriginal Zepplin and AC/DC clones such as Great White and Jackyl, the vocals are the only thing that follows this trend. The guitar riffs are frequently varied, as both Phil Collin and Steve Clark were experts at exploiting the capabilities of the two guitar arrangement, and the song structures contain some good detailing to keep the standardized format they'd adopted from getting tiresome.
"Animal" and "Women" are my two picks for the standout tracks on this album, the former for amazing vocal delivery, the latter for the great guitar work. "Rocket" has a rather interesting middle section that almost sounds like a hommage to the Beatles' "I am the Walrus" pushed in between a set of more minimalist song sections. "Armaggedon It" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" are probably the most catchy, although they've been played to death so much on the radio that there are no surprises, granted I know this only because in the late 80s I still got enjoyment out of listening to the radio.
"Love Bites" and the title track are more ballad oriented tracks and are a bit slow. I don't mind them, but the rank and file Power/Traditional Metal fan might find them a bit too fluffy for the genre they love. Everything else on here is strong, but the temptation to repeat the previously mentioned tracks rather than listen to the whole CD is definately there. "Gods of War" is my pick for the best out of the remnants, as it is one of the heaviest tracks this band has put out since "On Through the Night".
In conclusion, this is a good album, but it isn't a metal CD by any standard. The guitars are not heavy, the lyrics are fluffy even next to the likes of Dokken and Motley Crue, and the overall structure of the album reeks of a conventional approach to song writing. Metal is not about accepting the rules of conventions, its about either bending or breaking them. However, this album does come highly recommended to those who like a more straight forward version of 80s rock, and I'm certain that there are many here on the Archives that would accept this album as a sort of guilty pleasure.
Here's where Def Leppard shrugged off any pretence of metal they might have retained, preferring instead to go completely pop. They sold off the respect of the denim n' leather armies than called them friend, and for what? Oh. 16 000 000 albums sold? Okay, I buy that excuse. If you thought Pyromania was over-produced, prepare to be sickened by the almost New Wave mechanical gloss of Hysteria. Seriously, if it weren't for that little bit of attitude in those swinging guitars and those jovial Joe vocals, you wouldn't know that this was the same sweaty hard rockers that'd been plugging away for the past decade or so.
I really wanna hate this record. It stands for everything I hate! But I can't you see. Def Leppard was always a pop band in metal clothing, and this just strips away the electricity, and if I loved those old records I can't entirely despise this one. It doesn't hurt that these are the best melodies the band ever wrote, the hooks breaking through the thin eggshell of your helpless skull to plunge into the soft tissue of your brain, embedding the horrifically catchy bubblegum venom inside your nervous system. You're never sure when you'll start bopping to this crap, revealing yourself a traitor to your cold steel heritage...*paranoia*
If you read my Pyromania review (and you must, your life is incomplete without it!), you'll know I said that that record had kind of a lot of filler between big hardy singles. Well, same thing here only more so, Hysteria yielding a mind-blowing SEVEN hit singles("Women", "Rocket", "Animal", "Love Bites", "Pour Some Sugar on Me", "Armageddon It", and "Hysteria") padded out by absolute shit, with a few exceptions. It's all just so fucking catchy yet oddly soulless, Mutt Lange pouring on the sugar literally, this stuff insidiously decaying your mind(and probly your teeth) or driving you in search of a purifying acid bath of Slayer or Death to save(or damn) your far-too-metal soul.
The album kicks off with a pair of "Rock of Ages" style songs, both "Women" and "Rocket" being relatively long dance-floor ready-mades, "Women" possessing what passes for a powerful solo in the Leppard camp at the time, both songs utilizing rather metallic structures with shiny pop guitars and synths replacing the crushing riffery you'd expect elsewhere. Gotta love that truly ridiculous break in "Rocket" though, Mutt Lange going on announcer duty to break up the 'rock' before getting back to the 'insert crowd chant here' chorus and wishy-washy solo. Bleech, yet also close to my heart. Horrible eh?
"Animal" is like "Photograph", only better and worse. Possibly the most gutlessly catchy song on the face of the planet, the rock side anyway, another dance style chorus with a patently unforgettable vocal melody leading into the hilariously inane chorus. Seriously, is this about beastiality or what? I'll take this time to point out the multi-multi-tracked vocals and how this cathedral of voices can be bent to malevolently commercial use. I mean God, I'm almost helpless before this shit. Grrr... Oh, special derisive laughter to the "uh uh uh annniiimal!" vocals on the break, just hilarious and cheesetastic stuff.
"Love Bites" is this record’s "Hammer-smashed Face", a relentless barage of.... ah, I'm just kidding of course. This song is Def Leppard's first US Number One hit, and it's easy to see why. Joe is tender and uh, aching, I guess, but really this song just makes you wish for the greener pastures of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" and "Too Late for Love". Thankfully, not that catchy, Joe singing a radio-friendly but less hooky love ballad to end all love ballads (oh boy do I wish). Check out Mutt Lange's techno-babble towards the end, it sounds like "Jesus of Nazareth go to hell", which cracked me up. [Actual quote: "Yes it does, blewdy hell". At least, so they say...*shifty eyes*]
"Pour Some Sugar on Me"...yeah, what can I say. Aerosmith style rapped lyrics, possibly the only song about cum-shots played on rock'n'roll radio, or at least the most blatant. But despite its exposure, I really like the song. The riff sounds particularly rockin' with the competition on the album (virtually none), even if I suspect you could put it on High'n'Dry and watch it wilt like a dead weed. Happy, bouncy, just like the rest, just with a little more pseudo-edge factor. Just a good song.
"Gods of War", man, nice little chuggy breakdown before that 'here comes the knife' bit, a pseudo-metal near classic despite those sparkly guitars that sneak in. A lot like "Die Hard the Hunter" one album back in that it's a song that wouldn't really take flight til the live show, but it's the most brooding and socially conscious(maybe...) song the Leps had written to that point, and it's played to perfection of a sort. Still, highlights the general lack of really interesting solo's on this album. This is like a Uriah Heep song or something, a very metallic structure played in an emphatically un-metal style.
"Run Riot" and "Don't Shoot Shotgun" are hideously catchy, particularly the former that lodged in my brain for weeks until I managed to get it out by humming "Don't Fear the Reaper" (try it, it works). "Excitable" is utterly reprehensible dance floor junk to a degree even "Animal" didn't attempt, yet mildly derivative, and please ignore the misfire that is "Love and Affection". You know you've REALLY sold out when you have super-commercial ballads that you don't even release as singles. This from a band who almost didn't put "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" on High'n'Dry because it WAS a ballad. Jesus...
"Hysteria" is just the most wince-inducing song, like the dust from a pixie stick given form. Although I think it works incredibly well live, the studio version is just an insult to rock. Skip it. When it comes around again, skip it, despite it having one of the more interesting solos.
I have saved my favourite song for last. Simply put, "Armageddon It" is the best song on the album, and probably the best song from '87 on for the band (with due respect to some of the great Retro-Active tunes). It opens with an infectious riff before mixing it up with two complementing riffs, equally good enough to base a song around, but both played at the same time to perfection. There's some crunch going on, a rarity on most post '83 Lange releases, and Joe is spot on in his ode to a butt-shakin' tease (not a rarity as far as Lep lyrics go). The chorus makes no sense, but who cares? Joe goes waaaay up to the top of his range for the pre-chorus (singing along becomes a worthwhile trial) and the true chorus is blinding pop-metal brilliance. Hell, even the solo is entertaining, Clarke waking himself up from the drunken reverie he was reportedly in for most of the recording to actually punch out a memorable albeit simple melodic solo that actual does more than reprise the main riff. Just a great, great song.
So, I was torn on what to grade this. I've listened to it a lot, and it's one of the earlier buys in my collection. But there's so much crap, and I truly hate some of the songs sometimes, even the ones I love. I was torn between a 40, a 50, a 60, a 70, and even an 80. But I decided, in spite of it's considerable faults I'd give it a favourable grade, so there you have it. If I get around to reviewing Adrenalize though... it won't be pretty.
Stand-Outs: "Armageddon It", "Gods of War", "Pour Some Sugar on Me"