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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.