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Churning the pop/rock abscess yet again. - 15%

hells_unicorn, January 2nd, 2013

Contrary to some, I've never believed in the inevitability of great rock bands getting old and boring, though the former is naturally onto itself an inevitability. Nevertheless, it must be conceded that while not a binding rule, it is something that happens quite often, and Def Leppard has been among the more blatant victims of it. With age has come an odd fetish with rock primitivism meshed, with some of the worst elements of modern post-grunge styled production ala Nickelback, culminating in a regurgitated fit of 70s rock orthodoxy with a hyper-processed modern sound in "Undefeated", a title that pretty well screams irony like a scream queen would bloody murder. Forget about energy, forget about passion, what ensues here is basically a perfect rehash of the lifeless pop pandering that defined "Songs From The Sparkle Lounge".

In the interest of accuracy, this longtime British rock establishment has been fighting with Aerosmith over who is the most successful arena rock weathervane since the late 80s, and both have seen similar results in recent times as they've conformed themselves to the festering rot that is current mainstream rock. This is the sort of song that has been heard before, multiple times by this band, though the production gloss has been significantly dumbed down to the point of resembling a primitive blues song with an excessive amount of vocal tracks and over-loud drums. Credit obviously should be given to Rick Allen for being able to handle an acoustic kit with only one arm, but regardless of his rock solid beat keeping, no number of gimmicks can rescue this thing from inducing physical pain to the ear of anyone who doesn't lap up the latest retro-rock knockoff toting the same 3 or 4 chords and no real gusto to back it up.

The most outwardly offensive aspect of this song is the absolute waste of talent that went into it, considering that this is the same band that produced "Pyromania", and also a respectable NWOBHM offering in "On Through The Night". Long time Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell is perhaps the biggest disappointment given that his work on "Holy Diver" and "The Last In Line" was light years away from the hypnotic rhythm riffs he pounds out ad nauseam while playing support to a lesser technician in Phil Collin. But coming up a very close second is vocalist Joe Elliott, who has basically traded in his gravely howl for a very clean, very safe mid-ranged croon that induces a sleep deep enough to rival the seditives used in "Inception". This is the sort of mundane, half-hearted drivel that is very easily copied by amateur karaoke singers, and is about as enthralling as the process of contemplating the nuances of air-conditioner noise.

There will no doubt be a number of scapegoats to explain away this nonsense, be it the laziness inspired by I-tunes or the continuing stranglehold that rock radio has managed to maintain on the industry despite the advent of digital technology, but songwriting this boring can not be excused. Def Leppard needs to quit trying to play catch up with the latest craze and find something that is their's and nobody else's, something which they had even during the height of their popularity circa the 80s, but recent trends would argue against holding one's breath for this to actually happen. Just follow the 3 A's of bad music: avoid, avoid and avoid.