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Classic album revisited: Def Leppard 'Slang'





The year was 1996, where once the likes of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Whitesnake and other Über rock bands resided alongside Stock Aitkin and Waterman now the charts were now filled with boy bands and dance. Despite the polarity of Grunge, Industrial and Thrash Metal, Rock as it we once knew it was undergoing a transformation and becoming an increasingly niche genre. In the UK Britop was riding high on a wave, and alt-rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins were appealing to a new generation hungry for something other than big hair and predictable mid section guitar solos.


For Def Leppard it was also a pivotal time. Mutt Lange had also jumped ship on classic rock and helped forge Shania Twain's own inimitable brand of Country Rock crossover. The result left the band sans their signature sound and the charting success they once had. Although the album reached number 5 in the UK it failed to set America on fire and continued to divide audiences. Def Leppard fans had an ambivalence towards it because it was such a breakaway sound but those unfamiliar with the bands back catalogue seemed to warm to the album.

 

Hearing the album this long after its release it seems to run alongside much of the rock and metal of today. Perhaps when Slang came out it was a ahead of its time so much so that fans weren't even sure how to respond. But now it sits happily in the rock canon. The sound marks the shift in the genre and the titular track is still the most commercial. This is also a profoundly personal album along with being musically experimental. In retrospect the album is clearly a cathartic process rather than a commercial one.

 

Truth, the opening track lulls you into a false sense of security with it's soft guitar refrain intro you half expect the classic Def Leppard sound. Suddenly Rick Allen's drums hit you like a juggernaut right between the eyes in a powerful opener. The album also features the Sarangi on tracks like Turn to Dust which gives them a Middle Eastern feel. This is a very different album indeed. All I Want Is Everything and Where Does Love Go When It Dies? are a return to the comfort of the Def Leppard ballad, but not for long, expect some further headbanging beauties. Worlds Collide has a great guitar riff that will get you jumping and Deliver Me is dark, heavy, instantly sing – a – longable, and easily one of the standout tracks on the album.

 

The album boasts some great material and is still unfortunately one of Def Leppard's more underrated albums. The significance of the album should not be overlooked. As Joe Elliott sings on Work it Out: “We show the world a brand new face, It’s taken us all this time,”

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