Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Last hurrah for Hair Metal before grunge killed it off. Pretty impressive sales, but still the weakest of the Decade Trilogy., N
on 9 October 2012
ADRENALIZE, is, in many ways, not only the end of an era for Def Leppard, but for hair/pop metal as well. Between 1983, when PYROMANIA came out, and this album came out (in 1992), the band had endured tragedy and continual setbacks. Drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a car accident, and had to learn how to play drums all over again. Steve Clarke drifted in and out of alcoholism, and went thru several rehab periods.
They tried recording the followup to HYSTERIA, but ultimately the project took forever to get off the ground due to Clarke's addiction problems. Eventually, Clarke had a six month leave of absence in 1990, and was found dead by his girlfriend in 1991. The band, rather than finding a replacement, decided to carry on as a quartet and finish the album. Not only that, their producer for PYROMANIA and HYSTERIA, Mutt Lange (Shaniah Twain's husband), jumped ship, producing Bryan Adam's rather dismal WAKING UP THE NEIGHBORS.
It helps to understand this history before you start listening to the album itself. In nearly a decade, Def Leppard only managed to produce three albums, mostly due to the aforementioned circumstances. And of these three albums, ADRENALIZE is easily the weakest.
For starts, the song writing has some issues. The best songs are those co-written with Steve Clarke, but without his talent, the whole album gets dragged down. It's not that the band really departs from their signature sound established on PYRO and HYSTERIA. All the bombastic hair metal that the 1980s junkies loved was here. Def Leppard crafed well polished hair metal that featured infectious melodies, panaromic scope, and an overall sense of contagious fun (something that was very lacking in 1992 in contemporary rock). Still, parts of the album fill stiff, and Phil Collens is simply no Steve Clark (Phil had to play the guitar parts set aside for Steve, as well as play his own parts by overdubbing). Also, some of the tracks are borderline ridiculous, especially the big single "Let's Get Rocked", which is a teenager telling his father he won't take out the trash or tidy his room, and imploring his friends "let's get the rock out of here." Lyrically puerile, and I confess it's rather hard to picture Joe Elliot, at the time over thirty, singing such adolescent lines. Just bad.
For a Def Leppard album, ADRENALIZE is rather ballad heavy. Still, "Tonight" is one of their best all time songs. "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" sounds like a rewrite, if not musically then lyrically, of the Bad Company song "If You Needed Somebody", which came out in 1990 just before this came out, and contemporary with the ADRENALZIE album. If the Bad Company track had any influence, I'm not sure, but they're both unrequited love and extremely similar.
The record itself, when it came out, sounded totally out of place from what was being bought by the public and played on radio stations. Grunge had taken over by this point, and Def Leppard, like Van Halen, was one of the few bands that managed to see their way through this difficult time for hair/pop metal bands of their ilk. What worked for PYRO and HYSTERIA, by the time this record came out, feels anachronistic and rather out of place in 1992. But that leads us to the sales statistics for this record.
Given the music industry's environment at that time, an era dominated by grunge and the "Seattle sound", amazingly ADRENALIZE went to number one both in the UK and America for five weeks straight. This would be the last hair-metal album that would go triple platinum and really reach such a wide-spread audience. Perhaps due to the lack of output by the band (only two records in nine years), the purchasing public rewarded the band for their efforts by buying the album in droves. This really was the last adrenaline rush that Hair/Pop metal would see before it was killed off by grunge.
Sadly, ADRENALIZE, though financially successful, sounds like a pale imitation of the band's former glories, but the imitation was good enough to satisfy a lot of the fan base. The album does have some of Leppard's best songs (especially "Tonight"), but it's easily the most dispensable of the Decade Trilogy.