DEF LEPPARD WITH THE ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA – DRASTIC SYMPHONIES – REVIEW

This late career opus comes not from a band in their twilight years but one that has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity over the last decade or so.

Genre: Symphonic hard rock

Release Date: 19th May 2023

Label: UMC – Mercury

Members:

Rick Savage – bass \ vocals
Joe Elliott – vocals
Rick Allen – drums
Phil Collen – guitar \ vocals
Vivian Campbell – guitar \ vocals

Track Listing:

1. Turn To Dust 05:30
2. Paper Sun 05:34
3. Animal 04:03
4. Pour Some Sugar On Me 05:27
5. Hysteria 05:56
6. Love Bites 06:42
7. Goodbye For Good This Time 04:26
8. Love 03:55
9. Gods Of War 06:46
10. Angels (Can’t Help You Now) 04:59
11. Bringin’ On The Heartache 04:33
12. Switch 625 03:05
13. Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad 04:56
14. Too Late For Love 05:37
15. When Love & Hate Collide 04:16
16. Kings Of The World 06:20

I’ve just walked home from my local railway station after work with the reworked orchestral version of ‘Love Bites’ blasting in my ears. That it transported me back in time to when the original came out and made me feel like a teenager lost in the moment some 30 years after the original was released is testament to the longevity and power of that particular song and more importantly the staying power of one of the biggest rock bands to come out of the UK, not just in the last few years but ever. Def Leppard hold the honour of being one of only a handful of bands to sell 10m plus copies of consecutive albums in the United States and whilst any artist might struggle to achieve that feat in the modern age, that Leppard did it with ‘Pyromania’ and then again with ‘Hysteria’ suggests that the lads from Sheffield do indeed know how to pen a tune.

This late career opus comes not from a band in their twilight years but one that has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity over the last decade or so. Sure, tours will have seen them play arenas with the likes of Whitesnake, Black Stone Cherry, Black Star Riders, Cheap Trick and more, but their boost in popularity thanks in no small part to their last two albums, the eponymous titled release and recent ‘Diamond Star Halos’ has seen them touring stadiums across the US and that size and scale of show hits the UK this summer. 

As such, there is a buzz about this album, their own ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’. ‘Drastic Symphonies’ features 16 songs from the band’s career, doesn’t try and take the easy option by only focussing on the hits and instead follows the path trodden by the like of Metallica and Scorpions by picking the songs that fit orchestral embellishment. We’re not just throwing an orchestra at the back of the band, we’re unpicking the tracks and rebuilding them to suit the message, the meaning and importantly the feel of the songs on offer.

It opens with ‘Turn To Dust’ from ‘Slang’, a track that always felt like it would benefit from the orchestral treatment and guess what, it does. The same can of course be said of ‘Paper Sun’ from the oft overlooked ‘Euphoria’ which slots neatly behind the opener. Neither one goes overboard, using the Royal Philharmonic to add to the song as opposed to overwhelming it. Symphonic Metal this is not, this is what it sounds like when someone has thought it through and retained the essence of the original and then given us a bonus package to accompany it. Simply put it’s as if Carlsberg did orchestral rock album….. 

A lavish reworked ‘Animal’ has already seen light of day and given fans a taste of what’s to come – check out the video below and tell me this doesn’t just hit right in the feels… 

 With ‘Love Bites’ taking me right back, followed immediately by ‘Gods of War’ and ‘Angels (Can’t Help You Now)’ which sounds truly sublime, it falls to ‘Bringin’ On The Heartache’ to deliver the first ‘hold my beer’ moment. Blending the passion and the power of the band from ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ era in 1981 with the modern reworking of the vocals and orchestral elements, this version felt like someone had looked at the world and pressed pause whilst it was playing. If we ever get to hear the band perform this live with the orchestra (don’t tell me it’s not being discussed as I type), then I feel my life indeed be complete.Instrumental ‘Switch 625’ has never sounded better and mega hit for Leppard ‘When Love & Hate Collide’ benefits from the new look and feel but it’s on ‘Too Late For Love’ my favourite track from ‘Pyromania’ and the one that went on every mix tape I ever handed to a girl in the 1980s, that the album hits its zenith. This song alone feels worth the purchase price. I’ve hit repeat more times than I care to mention and it’s still not enough.

The album closes with ‘Kings Of The World’, which, if you know your Def Leppard, you’ll recall appeared as one of a handful of studio tracks on the live ‘Mirrorball’ release. Again, picking this just proves that care and thought has gone into the track selection to make the orchestral stuff fit to the best selection of tracks the band has to offer.

When a band has performed as long as Def Leppard has then an orchestral release becomes an expectation rather than a surprise. That it turned out this well is more than we could have hoped for. As a life long fan, this leaves me with the biggest smile on my face and has reawakened my undying love for the band and I’m not ashamed to admit it. There will be detractors, there’s bound to be because it’s cool to knock classic acts like Def Leppard in favour of ‘edgy’ artists that won’t be able to go the distance when it comes down to it. Well fuck ’em. This is brilliant and it’s everything I could have hoped for and more. 

Score 10/10 

Reviewed by Adrian Hextall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album Pre-Order link: https://DefLeppard.lnk.to/ds-physicalpr

Album Hero Link (Pre-Order & Pre-Save): https://defleppard.lnk.to/drs-symppr

IG1 Animal Listen Now: https://DefLeppard.lnk.to/animal-dspr

2022 saw Def Leppard release their critically and commercially acclaimed 12th studio album “Diamond Star Halos” which charted all over the world including a top 5 and top 10 in both the UK and North America. Early 2023 saw the band score a UK No 1 Netflix film with their cameo in acclaimed movie “Bank Of Dave”. Joe Elliott is currently riding high in charts across the world with his guest vocal on the Ghost track “Spillways”.

2022 saw Def Leppard play a SOLD OUT stadium tour across North America with Motley Crue – selling over 1.3 million tickets. February and March 2023 saw the tour wow audiences throughout Central and South America. In May, June and July the must see tour of 2023 comes to Europe, including a stop at the iconic Wembley Stadium on the 1st July. The band will then return to the USA for more live dates in August 2023.

THE WORLD TOUR DATES:

Mon, May 22, 2023 Sheffield, UK Bramall Lane

Wed, May 25, 2022 Mönchengladbach, Germany SparkassenPark

Sat, May 27, 2023 Munich, Germany Koenigsplatz

Mon, May 29, 2023 Budapest, Hungary MVM Dome

Wed, May 31, 2023 Krakow, Poland TAURON Arena Kraków

Fri, Jun 2, 2023 Prague, Czech Republic Prague Rocks *

Sat, Jun 3, 2023 Hannover, Germany Expo Plaza

Tue, Jun 7, 2022 Solvesborg, Sweden Sweden Rock Festival *

Fri, Jun 9, 2023 Helsinki, Finland RockFest *

Sun, Jun 11, 2023 Trondheim, Norway Trondheim Rocks *

Wed, Jun 14, 2023 Copenhagen, Denmark COPENHELL *

Fri, Jun 16, 2023 Clisson, France Hellfest *

Sun, Jun 18, 2023 Dessel, Belgium Graspop Metal Meeting *

Tue, Jun 20, 2023 Milan, Italy Ippodromo SNAI San Siro

Fri, Jun 23, 2023 Lisbon, Portugal Passeio Maritimo de Alges

Sat, Jun 24, 2023 Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Spain Auditorio Miguel Ríos

Tue, Jun 27, 2023 Thun, Switzerland Stockhorn Arena

Sat, Jul 1, 2023 London, UK Wembley Stadium

Sun, Jul 2, 2023 Lytham, UK Lytham Festival *

Tue, Jul 4, 2023 Dublin, Ireland Marlay Park

Thu, Jul 6, 2023 Glasgow, UK Glasgow Green

Sat, Aug 5, 2023 Syracuse, NY, USA JMA Wireless Dome

Tue, Aug 8, 2023 Columbus, OH USA Ohio Stadium

Fri, Aug 11, 2023 Fargo, ND, USA Fargo Dome

Sun, Aug 13, 2023 Omaha, NE, USA Charles Schwab Field

Wed, Aug 16, 2023 Tulsa, OK, USA Skelly Field @ H.A. Chapman

Stadium

Fri, Aug 18, 2023 El Paso, TX, USA Sun Bowl

*Festival Date

For tickets check local listings for complete details including VIP offerings, on sale times vary. To purchase tickets please visit defleppard.com.

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