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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.