DEF LEPPARD – Drastic Symphonies

DEF LEPPARD - Drastic Symphonies cover art
  • 7.5/10
    DEF LEPPARD - Drastic Symphonies - 7.5/10


Label: UMe
Release date: May 19, 2023

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Still riding on the success of their twelfth studio album, Diamond Star Halos (2022), English Hard Rock band Def Leppard kept the momentum going by releasing Drastic Symphonies, an album featuring reimagined and orchestrated versions of their hits and deep cuts. Unlike Metallica’s S&M (1999), where the band performed with an orchestra live, Def Leppard combined original audio tape recordings with newly rerecorded vocal / guitar overdubs and symphonic arrangements from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. Though they’re not the first band to do the “Rock meets symphony” concept, they do a good job of adding new flavors to their classics and lesser-known tunes. The tracklist covers old stuff and new stuff, with the oldest being from High ‘n’ Dry (1981).

The Good and the Bad

Slang (1996) is represented with a newly modern version of “Turn to Dust.” The string instruments and new percussion elements brighten up the song, giving it a more vibrant and atmospheric feel to it. “Animal” strips back some of the guitar melodies, allowing the orchestra to shine. Still big and epic, like the original version, but in a way never done before. The orchestra’s theatrical components breathe new life into overplayed classics such as “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” and “Switch 625.”

The bombastic “Gods of War” is another standout track with big timpanis and symphonic guitar melodies, brightening up a song with such a serious political message behind it. For Pyromania (1983) fans out there, Def Leppard covers “Too Late for Love,” which features vocalist Joe Elliott duetting with his younger self. The band’s signature backing vocals are present on Drastic Symphonies. The production is polished and refined, but not to the extent of Mutt Lange’s doing, just enough for the band and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to do the talking.

Some of the songs have entirely different vibes that set them apart from the originals, which is good, but the bad news is that not all of the songs achieved the same results. “Paper Sun,” for instance, already has a dark and moody feel to it, therefore, adding violins to the song doesn’t make a difference. “Goodbye for Good This Time” and “Angels (Can’t Help You Now),” two of the more orchestrated tracks from Diamond Star Halos, suffer from the same fate. “Love” from Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008) contrasts a little from the original version, but not enough to make it stand out. On the other hand, the newly stripped down and tame “Pour Some Sugar On Me” greatly differs from the original, but because it’s so different, fans may feel conflicted about it.

Some Variety, But Not Enough

Going back to the album tracklist, despite the band’s efforts to include a variety of songs from their catalog, there’s still a heavy reliance on tracks from the mighty successful Hysteria (1987), with five of the 16 songs from that album. It would’ve been nice to have gotten another track from a lesser-known studio release like Adrenalize (1992), Slang, or Euphoria (1999). A track from On Through the Night (1980) would’ve been neat, as well.

Final Assessment

Some fans won’t be tempted to get Drastic Symphonies because they’re better off listening to the originals. But for fans that are open to change and new interpretations of Def Leppard songs, this is the album to get. While not all of the changes work, there’s still a lot to enjoy on Drastic Symphonies.

Album Tracklist

  1. Turn to Dust
  2. Paper Sun
  3. Animal
  4. Pour Some Sugar On Me (stripped version)
  5. Hysteria
  6. Love Bites
  7. Goodbye for Good This Time
  8. Love
  9. Gods of War
  10. Angels (Can’t Help You Now)
  11. Bringin’ On the Heartbreak
  12. Switch 625
  13. Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad (on the vinyl and Atmos versions)
  14. Too Late For Love
  15. When Love & Hate Collide
  16. Kings of the World

Band Lineup

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


  • Lana Teramae

    Lana is a reviewer at Metal Express Radio from Honolulu, Hawaii. She's always had a passion for music, but she didn't get into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music until she discovered Rick Allen's story in the summer of 2019. She was inspired by his determination to play drums for Def Leppard again after losing his left arm in a car accident. From there, her tastes expanded to other bands such as AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Judas Priest, Saxon, Cinderella, and Overkill. Aside from listening to music, she loves watching YouTube and writing on her personal blog.

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